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January 07, 2006

Note to the west: shift the future 

Chris’s post below brings up several interesting points, which remind me of some of the reasons this book was written in the first place when we all met at Medinge, Sweden in June 2002. The post might be one of the longer ones here, but it is one of the more meaningful, too.
   Our friend Prof Reuven Brenner, at McGill University, wrote in his book The Force of Finance about the educational downfall due to the growth of enrolments in the in the 1960s. This created powerful lobby groups and mediocre professors, and by extension, mediocre students. I could not fault Reuven’s reasoning then, and I cannot now.
   With some exceptions—I recall some of my own professors—I notice that by and large the so-called degree need not lead to mastery. It was this that led me to do a more academic Master of Commerce when confronted with the choice: there seemed little point to complete a more expensive version of 100-, 200- and 300-level papers with a new number on the front.
   Instead, MCA (the A is for Administration) students were expected to be more —or at least equip themselves for the coming years. My prof, Peter Thirkell, who has now risen to be dean of the faculty (deservedly so), encouraged students to not adopt a rear-view mirror in their theses.
   I do not know how the department at my Alma Mater is run these days, but I do know that if Peter were supervising another thesis, he would welcome the thoughts of , and the ideas of . His own research suggests as much.
   The crumbling of traditional needs to take place if organizations are to sustain themselves; in the west, it’s needed if they are to make a rapid enough change to take into account a and a . If companies entering and believe that the consumer movement will take years to take hold (by examining the patterns in the west), then they are mistaken: India shows signs of that right now, while Red China’s rapid shift to will necessarily kick that off, to the chagrin of the .
   The changes in the west, particularly in the , are pressing. It will take a huge change in the way business is perceived: one less of adversaries and one more of . That attitudinal change will necessarily encompass the consumer movement—for right now, consumers are seen as if you look at some of the largest companies—or at best a wholly separate group to the organization. Numerous, smaller organizations have already woken up Stateside, but the systemic changes—valuation is Chris’s passion, but it is important—still have not taken place. We continue to place ahead of people.
   I tend to be a cautious optimist: I take heed of Chris’s (and Norman Macrae’s) warnings—and live in hope that the smaller organizations that have kicked off consumer movements (or Oneness, as Stefan Engeseth might put it) will grow so much, fuelled so well by their audiences, that old cannot ignore it. A single network TV documentary woke Detroit up to Japan’s success as a car-making nation (even if GM and Ford have fallen into old habits again); a single company that has made a big enough change might be able to do the same. It needs to mobilize its citizens, and, in turn, interests.
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