Wednesday, 19 August 2009
This is adolescent posturing. It's stupid and simplistic. Let's take an example:
"You wanted big, fat, lazy "business." We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce."
Does he actually think that people sat down and chose "big, fat, lazy business"? Presumably not. That would show a complete lack of understanding of human nature.
So what does he mean by this?
Let's assume, at least for now, that 'business' is fat and lazy*. Even with these fairly naive starting assumptions we could construct a nuanced and interesting question; 'How did people with good intentions end up creating these seemingly fat and lazy companies'?
There's a huge range of literature on why humans think the way they do, much of it completely fascinating. If I were to glibly oversimplify it I'd say that most of the problems stem from the fact that it seems that the human brain was never designed to find truth; it was designed to live in a human society. This leads to all sorts of problems, mainly due to people signalling values they want to portray to others in the society rather than facing reality as it is.
What he's done in this post is to sell people a fictional story; one that will appeal greatly to them but contains no truth or merit. That's fine so long as no one tries to act on it. But as soon as things have to be done in the real world, reality bites and anyone who tried to find meaningful content in his words would be chasing shadows.
The irony is that he's criticising perhaps the most stereotypically 'enlightened' generation, that of the 60's - the one that would have bought in to the sentiments expressed in this post most avidly. Remember how rock and roll was going to save the world? He's updated that stupidity by 50 years.
Is it possible that the very reason things have gone wrong is because, back when the current CEO's were in their impressionable youth, they bought into exactly the same crap he's peddling here? By making decisions on unrealistic, fairy-tale versions of reality nothing will work out the way we expect.
People have thought long and hard about their decisions to make the world the way it is today. I offer you the modern understanding of cognitive biases and behavioural economics as a way of understanding where they went wrong.
Unless you can offer me a new explanation of why they made their mistakes, since both you and they are human, you're probably going to screw up in exactly the same way.
*breaking this down would provide more food for thought. Businesses do seem to be overly fat and lazy but how, in a competitive market place, can this happen?