Sunday, November 04, 2001

Good quote.

I frankly don't think that timid orthodoxy has much to do with professionalism per se, rather that professionalism simply accentuates the perceived risks of non-northodoxy for those timid souls that rely on the madness of crowds for their personal security. Any such person, when faced with even higher risks for much the same or less rewards, will naturally tend to increase their orthodoxy at the expense of any unorthodox impulses they may occasionally suffer.

Why corporate bodies further compound this madness may be similarly linked to the "nice, safe, bank job" image that they like to project.

A part of doing so will surely be the hiring and promotion of people of like mind.

It is one of capitalisms enduring paradoxes that the entrepreneur (i.e. the acquirer of capital) must be a risk-taker, to some degree a bucker of the trend, yet as soon as a capitalist becomes an investor then safety becomes pre-eminent in their thinking. As my hero Bill Bonner likes to say, "they stop worrying about the return ON their investment and start worrying about the return OF their investment."

But the paradox may only be apparent. When they entrust their money to someone else, the capitalist could be justified in thinking that no-one will treat it with the same respect they would, since they were the ones who had to risk the perils of unorthodoxy to secure it in the first place, and it is these very people to whom they are entrusting it that they necessarily fought viciously against to do so.

So maybe there is wisdom in concluding that taking the safe, well-trodden path is about as far as you'd want to trust the MBA'd, Armani'd, and latte'd crowd. What you might call their comparative advantage.

So you stack boards of directors with old people you trust, not young people you think might have some "good fucking ideas".
Many studies of fund managers have shown that they habitually leave funds with people they know, almost irrespective of the actual returns, but certainly even as other investments do markedly better.

There is vastly more going on in todays corporation than the corporation cares to think about, let alone admit. A certain orthodoxy, not to say an agreeable disposition and a flexible morality, will find favour more surely than insight, vigour, raw talent, and passion.

Have we not all seen it again, and again, and yet more, again?


And again?


This is probably why the vast majority of companies do OK in good times and suffer in bad times; there is little evidence that most companies are in possession of any unique qualities that might enable them to go against the flow.

Sorry, there is vast evidence of such possession - there is little to be found of any will to put it to good use.

This will (or lack thereof) is not necessarily related to incompetence, (althouogh it doesn't rule it out) but rather to a lack of MASTERY in the specific field in which the professional is employed. For marketers then, it is no surprise that the bulk of the profession are impossible to engage in normal, substantive, human conversation. This being precisely what, in our opinion, the profession needs, but exactly what they have been trained, trained, trained, and rewarded (i.e conditioned) NOT to do.

In my own field, at which I am (if I may be so bold) damnably good, I am seldom content to be other than unorthodox. Nay, I have a well earned reputation for maverick notions and impolitic speeches, radical mayhem launched against the staid and unimaginative mass of time-servers and free-loaders.

But speaking of tides, and how we may fare in them, Shakespeare (another of my heroes) put it thusly:

"Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe:
The enemy increaseth every day;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures."

Brutus, from Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3

He did it better.

Which is maybe why I am not a poet.

Or maybe I'm just too timid to be an unorthodox poet . . . . .

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