It’s the systems, stupid. It’s the relationships, stupid. Charismatic systems work. Warmth works. People spend more when they feel like winners. Internal cold wars do the opposite. They freeze the economy and the people-centered innovation that’s required for growth. Cold stunts the birth and growth of cash cows and golden geese and profitability.
The killer question, one rival to another during a meeting: “What’s the ROI on that?” This kills baby ideas. Because there is no ROI (return on investment) figure or actuarial chart for fresh-born babies. They can learn any language on the planet. Circumstance and structures play a huge role in how they develop. Ditto for new ideas.
Stick your neck out, lose your job. That’s the game during a chilly economy. Better yet, leave no footprints in the sand. Hide in plain sight. Conceal knowledge. Don’t let on that you are a shining example of too many jobs and too many promotions in too short a time. Yes, you are the Peter Principle in living form. You could compensate by putting others’ ideas ahead of your own, by yielding to their agendas. But that would appear weak. Or would it?
Who would win more World Series? A team composed of all Cy Young pitchers and nothing else…or the current World Champs? Teams beat stars. Remember the Jordanaires? Until they went from a collection of stars to a team of role players, they won few championships: none. Look at what Coach K did to win the Olympics. Look at what Doc Rivers and the C’s did two years ago. Team beats stars. DC: are you listening?
And what’s the glue under pressure? A bit of ham and a ton of character. That’s what brings out maximum effort. A tight, overwound-up team gets muscle bound and tense and brittle. Things snap like they’re pumped up on steroids. But not combinations of character and ham. Who could forget Ben Crenshaw winning the Masters and doubling over sobbing. And later leading the US to an historic come-from-behind victory in Brookline.
Warm confidence, not chilly hubris, is what’s required. Warm caring, not cold cash is what the focus should be on. Because warm unleashes the power of American neighborliness, a power overlooked and under-studied because it is not hierarchical and not a good fit for ego-systems like universities and markets like publishing and journalism. Neighborliness is not sensational nor fear based. It is thought that it makes for bad ratings. Perhaps the research is what’s flawed.
Or as a teacher in LA said: “I’d like to see a picture of a mother holding a baby. The caption would read: ‘There is no metric for this.’” Two thumbs up for that one.
Crenshaw’s teacher, Harvey Penick, knows all this. He delighted in teaching, in moving anyone forward, based on their style but better. Practical and pragmatic, Penick assessed a golfer’s strengths and built on them and the player’s confidence. Being yourself: that’s what holds up under pressure.
Neighborliness is about ecosystems of people, flat networks of sensing and doing that spike into respectful action. Temporary pyramids of power form and then vanish as soon as their work is done. Much as Army Rangers synchronize their arrival, do their work and then vanish into the night.
A cold economy is all wrong. It discourages and disrespects the consumer. It taxes and fees the consumer for things that used to be free: like getting your own money out of your bank account. Fees are a sign of systems failure, a band-aid over scores of band-aids, a sign that nothing new is growing there, a sign that employees have been lobotomized and cubicle-ized and Dilberted and isolated from their total net value as a person. Robots are not good at inventing, only at doing what they are told. Roboticizing is the fastest way to kill love and innovation that’s healthy for people. Greed-based Bonuses and Bounties for processing deals without conscience: these are the fastest way to incentivize creation of solutions that hurt people.
Enron. Countrywide. Tyco. Madoff. And others the jury is out on.
It’s the systems, stupid. It’s the relationships, stupid.
That’s what Clinton might say. In a time of raging complexity and noise, figure it out. Don’t add to it. You’ll only confuse those you lead. Go back to basic values. Character. Principles stuck to under pressure. Come up with a big mission Americans will rally around, something with the effect of a First Moon Shot.
This time around, some 50 years later, make it about America, the most innovative nation in the world, innovating it’s own legacy systems of everything: democracy, finance, education, news, assembly-line value creation, network-style value creation.
Optimal use of space, optimal use of time. Productivity with no committees and no boss: It’s all up for grabs; let’s take the lead and share our shined up flat systems with the world.
Until we rise above the matrix to take a clear look at the structures that dictate effort and results and how they are perceived, we will continue to brawl inside the matrix, the labyrinth. And our solutions will be unresourceful and create messes that are offensive to others.
Yes, it’s now practical and desirable to let “we the people” into the mix as a fourth party, a massive group of kitchen cabinet advisors, generating scenarios and ideas nicely vetted and curated. Call it plausible pragmatic policy. Built on a foundation of who we are and what we have instead of the medical model of pathology that leaves us rubbernecking at failure instead of steering well through the disaster zone.
Some say the current system makes sense. But breakdowns across industry, the economy and education suggest otherwise. Perhaps it’s time to reexamine some of the legacy beliefs and procedures we hold dear. Perhaps they aren’t up to the strain of speed we now live in.
Proposed Measures of an efficient system of people who create ideas and curate successes (assets) and identify unintended consequences for leaders across the board:
1. number of viable options produced by the system
2. speed at which they are produced
3. speed at which they are considered
This can be created online via a hybrid mesh of social media and mainstream media faster than in the real world. Why? No travel, no committees as filters. Just a focus on outcomes using existing resources.
States need to realize their own shortcomings. Ditto for corporations. Ditto for leaders.
What is the constructive and productive role of an individual without status in a democracy or corporation or community. What is the role of a neighbor on digital?