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September 04, 2003

the contrarian 1 

I believe conversational spaces need to be big enough to permit open disagreements which hopefully connect -on reflection - in better understanding beyond a first round of verbal soundbites.

I disagree with two things Tim wrote recently, at least as I read them

1) We don't own a big idea but we do openly seek to word-of-net one until you feel confident to use it. Every time someone analyses a rationale and image of certainty that leans on the proof of numbers - ask where do we see the true (or most valuable) human future connections in this? Numbers abstract historic snapshots of reality which are often the precise opposite of the bigger connecting picture that human common sense values, hopes for, is in desperate need of systemising. Numbers separate what should have been seen strategically as well as humanly interconnected- if Andersen had realised this it wouldnt have sent itself bust nor consulted on so many pathetic mockeries of network economy businesses. Most big organisations today are led by numbers not by people, and when that is all that governs business investment decisions, they are viciously destroying the human relationship systems that truly sustain all the value dynamics- the ones that systematically depend on people learning, doing communal good, trusting each other in relationship exchanges, serving others or networking innovation collaboratively, or seeing that there are parts of the world in such desperate need and lack of hope that they will blow us all up unless we find transparent worldwide compassion in part of what we demand our biggest organisations do. Numbers- as yielded by a tangible management accountant - have become anti-democratic and terrifying compounders of conflicts.

Beyond is a global and local conversation around what all this means - and anything humanly you would like to make a social case for openly taking on all questioners - knowing that there is something human to interconnect that conventional powers that be -and all their spreadsheeted numbers - are currently blind to.

2) At a practice level, one of the your and our big ideas will raise is: ASK anyone who mouthes Shareholder Value Analysis to your face- is their analysis benefiting medium-term investors like pensioner-to-be or only speculators? The two's demand on human organisational systems are mathematical opposites - you cannot sustain value for both. What this leads to is either reforming the way analysts currently govern stockmarkets and managers by numbers, or celebrating other organisational forms. SC Johnson (in spite of Tim's blog entry) is an outstanding example of a family company , ie one that isnt on the stock market becauise its ownership remains in one family's primary investment control. I have 2 SC Johnson stories.

Mid 80s India- they sent me to the slums of India to research whether people needed India's first disinfectant brand and how to make it cheap enough for anyone to be able to afford. Ultimately our project failed because corruption -somewhere up India's political and regulation chain - changed the rules on product formulations that were alowed on the market- only after our product started being a public winner. Johnson carried the equivalent of a several million dollar loss on that brave attempt to introduce a useful brand. I learnt how much I loved Indian people but distrusted the political structure which us Brits had somehow burdened them with

SC Johnson's first operation abroad (outside US) was in Britain. Time came when the factory was totally out of date. The accountants recommended to Johnson to close it down. Johnson told its managers to come back with a plan of what to invest in to make the factory world class again - they were not about to close down the place which had been their first footstep is a pity that so few of America's global companies behave the way the Johnson family does in maximising its investments over time
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