When all around are losing theirs…

Posted by on Jan 23, 2008 in Uncategorized | One Comment

_44375657_stocks203 pic c/o BBC

Lots of over-excitement around the world. Markets down then up then down again. Lots of voices of doom, and lots – LOTS – of blogging and cheap editorial about how this is all the result of HERD thinking.

Two thoughts here:

1. this is just the one side of the HERD coin: it’s not like this a temporary outburst of the some new mechanism. The good stuff from the good times in markets is also the result of HERD behaviour.
2. how this outpouring reveals quite how inspired a title it was to choose for this whole way of thinking way back then

And this all timed nicely for Edelman’s Trust Barometer 08 (launched yesterday in London). I’ll have a proper look at the data soon but one important finding is the – in Europe at least – NGO’s are much more trusted than government or business leaders. Indeed, business leaders were trusted only 50% as much as the average employee about their business.

And yet they’re sitting in Davos now moaning about factors beyond them – as if financial authorities, the market and the rest were solely to blame for the current plight on the markets.

Think it’d be good if all the Princes and the Powerful were forced to put their blackberries down for half and read this seminal article by Henry Mintzberg (or the Fast Company version).

In clear and lucid prose he shows just how much of the accepted wisdom in modern consumer capitalism is plain wrong-headed (not least the idea that business and wealth creation can ever exist outside society and thus business leaders can devote themselves solely to the interests of the shareholders and ignore society and its concerns)

Happy to lead the discussion and workshop to sort out what to do next, but think will content myself with re-reading it. Particularly this bit which neatly excoriates the Heroic management cult of today’s business leaders and outlines a more humane and :

Heroic management
– Managers are important people, quite apart from others who develop products and deliver services
– The higher “up” these managers go the more important they become. At the “top”, the chief executive IS the corporation
– Strategy – clear, deliberate and bold – emanates from the cheif who takes the dramatics steps that drive up share price. Everyone else implements
[…}
– Rewards for increasing the share price go largely to the leader, the risk taker (who pays no penalty for drops in share price)

Engaging Management
– Managers are important to the extent that they help other people be important
– An organisation is an interacting network, not a vertical heirarchy, Effective leaders work throughout
– Strategies, often initially modest and evenobscure emerge as the people who develop the products and deliver theservices solve little problems that merge into new initiatives
[…] – Rewards for making th company a better place go to everyone, and they are significantly psychic

Amid all the tears and tantrums, there is some sunshine: bad times are when you get to make the biggest changes; there’s always a reason not to when the sun shines. Maybe these turbulent times will help us by forcing the Princes and the rest of us to change how we go about business and get things more aligned with what we all know is true.

Let’s hope so.

1 Comment

  1. Johnnie Moore's Weblog
    January 26, 2008

    Beyond Selfishness

    Mark pointed to this the other day: Henry Mintzberg on Beyond Selfishness. I agree with almost all of it. I especially liked this table of two ways to manage – a simplification, of course, but a good one….