Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: November 2011

Do We Really Need To Fail?

Yesterday, I heard a report on NPR about the resource management department in North West Washington, in response to diminished funding – is certifying private boats for emergency duty in clean up, security, and rescue.  This is logical because nobody knows and understands the waters of Northern Puget Sound and The Strait of Juan De Fuca than the local tribes and others who ply those waters daily.

Today, I heard another report on NPR about how the City of Houston has gained far more from the demise of Enron than their existence.  Enron would recruit the top intellect in the country, move them to Houston and reward them for creativity and hard work.  The collapse of Enron released 4000 hugely talented people to the Houston Economy where many have started new businesses with remarkable success.

Vicious Circle or Virtuous circle:

I will not pass judgment beyond what these reports stated, except that there is something very valid about the “Knowledge Inventory” that exists in a community and their specific location.  The Jane Jacobs externality proposes that endowment of creative and educated people drives economic growth in a community by attracting investment and development, which attracts more smart people, etc.

Vicious Galaxies or Virtuous Galaxies

As the NPR reports suggest, the type of investment and development is dependent on the quality and quantity of knowledge assets that exist in a particular location.  Now, let’s extrapolate that to include all disciplines and talents of knowledge that exist in all communities and we encounter a stark reality that there is no knowledge inventory from which to build – except in the response to a failure such as the corrosion of government spending or in the wake of corruption and associated corporate collapse.

Yes, it is often said that adversity brings out the best in people, but is that really necessary?  Do we really need for the whole rig to collapse before we emerge from the ashes? 

We need to build the knowledge inventory today.  People need to know what people know – that is where the truth lives.   We need to know what can be built from the parts that we have in the bin.  We don’t want to try to build something from the wrong parts any more than we want to misallocate the right parts to build the wrong things.  In any industry in the world, none of these situations would pass the stink test, yet this is the state of our communities today.  We don’t even know that we don’t know what we know.  Seriously, is anyone else wondering about these things?

89% Are Already OWS

99% of Americans don’t have a game that they can win playing by the rules imposed on them by the other 1%.  But in order to keep this game in play, that 1% utterly depends on the remaining 89% who still have jobs to show up for work and do as they are told. The spectre of the 9% fallen is an incentive, of sorts, to those still walking.

These are the 89 percenters…

…who already occupy Wall Street with their knowledge of systems and processes to implement procedures and methods that support the connections and networks of the remaining 1%.  Without these people in place, the system will fail faster than S&P can calculate a credit score, literally.

The 89% know what each other know

The logistics manager knows whom to call when the packages are late.  The account manager knows all of the customers by name.  The service team knows exactly how to get the computer systems back online.  The loan officer knows where the money is.  But only the 1% know where the knowledge is…and where it isn’t…

Knowledge is money

As RIM recently learned, if the computers go down, all the money in the world will not bring them back.  Most companies have an off-line life span of only a few days or hours before irreparable damage occurs.  Only the right knowledge in the right place at the right time can save the firm.   This is a huge monetary vulnerability.

The Public Knowledge Inventory

I found a great picture of the Occupy Wall Street Library from here.  The great irony is that OWS felt the need to build a Library that represents the ideas that they have between their ears.  What they really need is a “Library” for the knowledge that actually lives, breaths, and acts in the minds of the 99%.  Only then can they deploy the force that they need to move enterprises.

Divide and conquer

As long as Americans are fighting with each other, there is little chance that they will organize their knowledge assets and deploy their knowledge assets in a manner that serves social priorities instead of Wall Street priorities.  This is the big shift that the World is waiting for.  As long as people fear losing their jobs, they will comply with the 1%

What scares them the most?

The greatest fear of any company is to have their key employees poached by a competitor.  Companies have gone out of their way to implement non-poaching agreements between known competitors and NDAs against unknown competitors.  Companies hide key players behind a mountain of bureaucracy, misinformation, and obscure titles and job descriptions in order to hide them from the open market; yet they willingly poach other firms when they can.

The cry of the 99% is income equality.

Let me suggest that OWS consider knowledge equality as a superior alternative.  So instead of the OWS book library, they should form a public knowledge Library.  A public knowledge inventory would make knowledge transparent to all people and all companies equally.

Then Let the Poaching begin

If the 89% were not scared heartless about getting another job, then they would be far more willing to join the movement.  In fact, the MVPs would be the most powerful voice of the movement – the top innovators and visionaries toiling their life away for a company willing to raid their pension fund or drop insurance coverage at the drop of a hat.  Nobody is going to tell them to take a bath – they are the water.

Who is Awarding The Disruption Badge?

There are some big names getting involved with “badges”.  Modern ideas about badges arise from incentive used by the gaming community to indicate achievement.  Historically, however, badges are older than money itself. Recently, badges are gaining attention in the area of education as a means of indicating achievement.

Badges are steeped deep in our economy and culture

When people write their resume, they “badge” themselves with the names of the companies that they worked for and the schools they attended.  They badge themselves with the market brands of the products that they worked on.  They badge themselves with the trademarks of the technologies that they applied.

People even badge themselves with corporate ideals such that “chronology”, “reasons for leaving” and “no blank spaces” are somehow rational proxies for intellect, creativity, and team working skills. We need a behavior platform, kids. Passion, family, and purpose are merely business disruptions.

There are several directions that this can go

The first is the inevitable collusion between badges and branding.  I am still scratching my head over AMEX hijacking the “Social Currency” badge.  Other badges (or logos) are considered among the most valuable assets that a company can own from Microsoft certifications to the Chuck E Cheese Rat … badges have value – with their own branch of the legal profession to prove it.

The second direction can be quite disruptive to branding.  For example it can cost well over $100K to wear the Harvard “Badge”.  Meanwhile Steve Jobs literally ridiculed Stanford to their collective face(s) with the idea that diverse combinations of knowledge assets are what set the innovation enterprise apart from the old guard.

What if the college degree badge is irrelevant? 

Who is to say and engineer in not an engineer until they take on $2000 more debt for a course in Western Civ.  And, if not Western Civ., then what course denotes the ascension into engineerhood?   A physics major that rules video games, kite surfs, plays in a punk band, and writes decent code is equally, if not more likely, to create a new industry than someone with a CS degree from MIT. Where is that badge?

Badges should be disruptive

What happens when it is no longer important to have “Google” on your resume? Why is it so now? What happens when being a Princeton drop-out is no better or worse than being a drop out from State U?  What happens when people are recognized for their passions and the things that they are naturally good at?  How can a credit score extrapolate success from measuring failure? What happens when there is no badge for the color of one’s skin, physical appearance, or family connections.  What happens when Brands are accountable for the people who wear their badge instead of the other way around?

Badging already exists and in order to improve anything, badges must be disruptive.

So, who is awarding the disruption badges?   

 

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