Udpluk fra en god bog om at genopfinde samfundet

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BLOGS
Af: Tobias Lau
19. jul 2015

Denne sommerferie bliver en kort sommerferie.

4 dage.

Men det gør nu ikke noget. Grunden er nemlig at vi skal lave et spændende projekt om entreprenørskab. Mere kan jeg egentlig ikke sige, da jeg har lovet ikke at tale om det.

Men projektet har betydet at vi må købe nye bøger ind til Tårnet. Og som nogle af jer måske ved, så er jeg meget glad for nye bøger.

Og selv føler jeg, at når man har at gøre med projekter som KRÆVER at man skal købe nye, spændende bøger, for at løse opgaven, så har man fat i det rigtige projekt at bruge sin tid på.

En tid der også kræver lidt i sin 4 dage lange sommerferie. Hvor der så nu læses i sofaen i familiesommerhuset på Bornholm.

Blandt andet i den nye bog af Charles Handy. Handy er for mange en af de mest betydningsfulde management writere; på linje med Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, CK Prahalad og Clayton Christensen. Det er Handy der er forfatter til bøgerne ’The Empty Raincoat’, ’Understanding Organizations’ og ’Gods of Management’. Han er tidligere leder i Shell, økonom og i dag professor ved London Business School.

Ja, jeg burde egentlig ikke skrive den her blog. Jeg burde arbejde på OPGAVEN. Men nogle gange har man jo brug for en pause. Og den vil jeg bruge på at lave en lynanmeldelse af Handys nye bog, ’The Second Curve – Thoughts on Reinventing Society’.

Det er en god bog.

I stedet for at trætte med selvfede anmelder-tanker, vil jeg blot skrive udpluk fra bogen. Så kan du selv bedømme om du er enig med Charles Handy og måske endda købe bogen for at læse mere om tankerne bag:

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  • I realised that much of my life […] was governed by the […] principle of ’If it works don’t fix it.’ Exhortations that it won’t work like that much longer, or could work better, fall on deaf ears. The status quo, people kept telling me, has to be better than the unknown. If there has to be change it should be ’better than yesterday’, not different. But society is not working as it should. Living is getting harder, not easier, for most.
  • […] As Tancredi famously told his uncle the Prince in Lampedusa’s novel ’The Leopard’, ’For things to to remain the same, things will have to change.’
  • Already, as I see it, too much of all that is new favours the few and not the many. Society is out of balance.
  • Looking back now, after eighty decades of life, I wonder how it was that, for the first three decades at least, I seldom questioned the way things worked, or were supposed to work, in Britain and in much of the rest of the world. I assumed that because things had always been that way that was the way they were meant to be; that those in authority knew what they were doing and were well advised. I know better now.
  • The pace of change in a democracy is glacial, to be measured in generations not years. Government may often know what they should do, but not how to get re-elected after doing it.
  • My hope is that the book will kindle [the next generation's] curiosity, provoke and stir their imagination, and encourage discussion among friends and colleagues. It was John Maynard Keynes who said, ‘I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.’
  • Second Curve thinking does not come easily. It requires imagination, intuition and instinct more than rational analysis.
  • Might it be wiser to aim to grow better without growing bigger?
  • Has money become too powerful? If Facebook can rustle up 19 billion dollars from its own resources to buy up a possible competitor, if Google can use its wealth to corner all the artificial intelligence expertise around, are we seeing the need for a modern trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt?
  • One of our faults is that we are too modest, too willing to believe that those in power know best.
  • Researchers in Oxford University suggest that 47 per cent of today’s jobs will be replaced by computers within the next two decades.
  • Walter Mischel, a leading expert on self-control, devised the Marshmellow Test almost 50 years ago. In an empty room he presented young children with a choice: take one marshmellow now or wait a while and have two. It was a test of deferred gratification. After observing the later lives of the children he was convinced that deferred gratification was crucial to a successful life, to better social functioning and to greater sense of self-worth. If he is right then the world of instant constant communication is endangering the successful futures of our young.
  • Markets are useful, but not for everything. Nor do they always work as they should.
  • It would be […] better if [one] compared outcomes not just inputs, since it is the relation between the two that really matters. That was the flaw in [the Soviet] system. You can have a very cheap process producing a very bad product, as happened all too often in the Soviet regimes and still does in our own public sector. A proper market with measured outcomes as well as costs would signal that.
  • A hospital might best be judged on the health of its surrounding population, or at least the continuing life of its patients. A school ideally needs to look at the progress of its students 20 years on. Since such measures of success are both difficult and impractical these organisations use substitute measures – the reoffending rate, the recovery time, the examination results, even though there is often no direct connection with the true longer-term purpose.
  • Intermediate measures fall foul of the MacNamara fallacy, as expressed by the US Secretary of Defence Robert MacNamara during the Vietnam War. It goes like this: The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.
  • Robert Kennedy once said, GDP ‘measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country: it measures everything in short except that which makes life worthwhile’.
  • Better not bigger. I should have realised, because most of the organisations that I have found it most interesting to work with down the years have been ones where it made no sense to grow any bigger.
  • In America the government once split up AT&T. Why not the new giants?
  • The individual pursuit of more money is a particular snare, because there is no obvious end to it. There will always be someone with more to act as a comparison and a challenge. It is one of the paradoxes of growth that it can end up as a recipe for perpetual dissatisfaction.
  • Companies are not, as some assume, the vassals of their shareholders. A company is a legal person, in every country. The shareholders do not own the business, just the shares. There is a difference. The formal rights of those shareholders only extend to the appointment of a board, and to the remaining assets of the business on its break-up after all other claimants have been paid. The responsibilities of the directors are to the company as a whole, not to the shareholders alone. It was a widespread misinterpretation of company law that gave rise to the elevation of shareholder value as the prime purpose of the company, to short-term thinking and the splurge of bonuses tied to share performance.
  • It has taken 40 years for people to begin to see that Milton Friedman’s idea was not working. Society has not benefited, indeed it almost collapsed in 2008.
  • The distinguished academic Roger Martin has calculated that, overall, company profit were lower in the 40 years after 1970 than they were in the 40 years before, when managers were paid normal salaries to do their job. If we seem to be living better lives it is mainly because there are now two earners in each family where one used to suffice, and those two are working harder and longer than ever before.
  • We have moved from value creation to value extraction.
  • It would be interesting to consider the implications that would follow if we thought of a business as a community rather than a property.
  • To get [businesses as well as other organisations] thinking, all they need to do is to look at some recent findings on the levels of engagement by the workforce in large organisations. The evidence is disturbing: 80 per cent of them say they are not really engaged with the work of the organisation.
  • Michael Maccoby, a psychoanalyst and renowned leadership authority, has described how the modern dual-career or single-parent families, with children in day care from their early years, have created young adults with more interactive social character and peer group than their parents, while their confident access to every kind of information makes them more ready to challenge authority, to be free agents in charge of their own lives.
  • [There is a] difference between efficiency and effectiveness. They should be the same but, in practice, they work differently. Efficiency starts from the input end while effectiveness works back from the end results. As Peter Drucker also said, ‘There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.’ Or the opposite, I would add, not doing what should be done because it would cost more, and therefore would appear to be less efficient. Required to increase efficiency, the prison service in Britain was asked to cut costs. They therefore sliced off what they saw as non-essential activities in order to keep security at the necessary level. The problem, as the journalist and blogger Simon Caulkin pointed out, was that these non-essentials included such things as education and gardening which had proved to be the most effective ways of preventing reoffending after leaving prison. In other words, the efficiency savings resulted in more returning prisoners, thus increasing the cost in the long run. Had they started at the other end, with the evidence of the relative longer-term effectiveness of different aspects of the prison regime, they might have decided differently.
  • Leadership […] means knowing your followers.
  • [In Europe by 2050] there are only two workers for every pensioner and those pensioners live until they are nearly 90.
  • Recent surveys reveal that the average Briton would like to retire at 63, go to live in a bungalow near the sea, 11 miles from their nearest offspring, and live for a further 25 years. They estimate that they would need a pension of £23,457 per annum […]. The evidence to date suggests that this is optimistic. To achieve such a pension they would have to squirrel away £10,425 a year for 45 years. On average the survey showed the only contributed £2,671 last year, enough for just five years at their wished-for standard of living.
  • Fundamentally, most countries need a complete rethink of their approach to lifetime financial planning now that life goes on so much longer.
  • The problem with the self-responsible society, the one we are slowly becoming, is that we have to learn how to educate ourselves in areas that we did not need to worry about before, because someone else was taking care of them. Financial literacy, understanding how the money world works, is one of those areas and it does not come easy.
  • This is perhaps the most urgent problem facing us today, to restore a proper justice to the creation and distribution of wealth. Wealth has to be spread around more widely without destroying the motivation to create it in the first place.
  • We could always call their bluff, the bluff of those who assert that high rewards are needed to retain their talent. Many would be happy to work for less if that became the norm. If they didn’t, there must be others equally talented who would. The pool of potential senior executives is neither as small nor as exclusive as those inside it consider it to be.
  • Pre-distribution, the economist call it – making the system fairer to begin with, rather than compensating for its deficiencies after the fact – an ugly word for an important point.
  • Something is wrong if you can make more money while you are asleep [waiting for house prices to go up] than if you go out to work.
  • Perhaps a special fund should be created, possibly paid for by the tax on the sale of one’s home, which could be used to allow all work-based education to be tax-deductible and to pay a subsistence wage to learners.
  • Schools, colleges, banks and venture capitalists, businesses and government agencies need to combine to pump-start a new enterprise-led revolution.
  • [I have an] optimistic belief in humanity that there exists in each of us the seed of possibility. This is our ‘golden seed’ which, if we only knew what it was, and if it were to be fertilised, watered and cared for, might lead to personal fulfilment. The best gift that you can give anyone, I maintain, is to help them to find and grow their golden seed.
  • In 1983 Howard Gardner of Harvard University revolutionised much of our thinking on intelligence with his theory of multiple intelligences. […] Gardner […] identified seven types of intelligence:
  • Linguistic intelligence
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Musical intelligence
  • Spatial intelligence
  • Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • […] The problem is that formal education systems focus on the first two, linguistic and logical-mathematical, and largely ignore others.
  • Ideally we shouldaim for an individual curriculum, one tailored to the needs of each child, rather than a national curriculum that seeks to make every child the same.
  • In our study of the Alchemists [entrepreneurs] it was noteworthy that most of them were second or third children, often less strictly disciplined, with less expected of them initially, more free therefore to be different.
  • The truth is that the nurturing of the golden seed is best done by a mentor.
  • One study that my wife and I did was entitled ‘Reinvented Lives: Women at Sixty’. In this book we interviewed 28 women who, in their sixties, reinvented themselves to live a new life, often realising an ambition that had been delayed while they brought up a family, but often discovering talents in themselves that they had not realised that they had. It is never too late. One of them became ordained as a priest, another fulfilled a long ambition to work at the South Pole after a life of writing children’s books and raising her family. A third wanted to help out her daughter and found herself running a café in a seaside town and being rather good at it. It is never too late to dig up your seed and start a new curve in life.
  • True learning, I was later to understand, starts with curiosity, with a problem or a challenge, a question that you need to answer.
  • […] Turning students into teachers of others is the best way for them to learn.
  • When young people are maturing earlier it seems odd that we are steadily postponing the entry into serious work, asking for ever more evidence of scholastic achievement before paying anyone a wage. Better surely to pay them to learn while they work at every level, fitting in the university or college learning when it is appropriate.
  • Large organisations are slowly realising that political ideas and theories often have more to tell them than management manuals. Federalism is a new curve whose time has come.
  • Settling for an intermediate goal such as money is much easier than answering the really big question, ‘What is life for?’ What is it all about?
  • Survival not progress is what most settle for in the end.
  • I keep a white stone on my desk. It is there because of a verse in the book of Revelation in the Bible which says, ‘To the one who overcomes, the angel said, I will give a white stone on which is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
  • As a classroom exercise I have on occasion aske mature students to do the obituary exercise. ‘Imagine,’ I tell them, ‘that you die in your mid-eighties. Your funeral is well attended and your best friend has agreed in advance to give the eulogy, but you asked him to keep it short. Write what you would like him to say in less than 300 word.’
  • Frederick Wiseman is 84; he showed his latest documentary in Cannes in 2014. Asked why he goes on making films he said, ‘All my friends are either dead or still working.’ There is always work to be done, a Second Curve waiting to be invented.

 

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Fortsat god sommer.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Second-Curve-Thoughts-Reinventing-Society/dp/184794132X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437300525&sr=8-1&keywords=the+second+curve

 

Profil
Tobias Lau authorimage Tobias Lau er direktør i innovationsfirmaet Social Action, www.socialaction.dk, som udvikler miljøprojekter med et socialvidenskabeligt fokus. Tobias er medforfatter på bogen Massive Change (Phaidon 2004), som omhandler nye innovationsløsninger på verdens miljømæssige udfordringer. Derudover er Tobias medforfatter på bogen Concept Design om innovationsmetoder udgivet af Økonomi- og Erhvervsministeriet i 2007.

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