* critique of 3 LAWS OF PERFORMANCE

relocated to: https://jrfibonacci.wordpress.com/?p=5179

2 Responses to “* critique of 3 LAWS OF PERFORMANCE”

  1. jrfibonacci Says:

    Dave Logan (co-author) replied the next day:

    Hi J.R.,

    Thanks for the note. I’m not an economist, but I have co-taught many courses with economists, so I have at least a lay person’s understanding of what you wrote. (My area of expertise is corporate culture and general management.) You were clearly one of the few who called the downturn, so that gives you a lot of credibility in my world.

    We’ll take a look at that line, but please understand we did run it past several well-known people in the field, who said it’s generally accurate. The point of the line was simply to add weight to the argument we made that organizations often put profits ahead of broader concerns, and sometimes, the rules let them do so. I don’t take any of what you wrote to contradict that conclusion.

    To bring what you said to a wider audience, here’s a proposal: do you have what you wrote in a blog post? If so, I’ll do a blog post (at BNET, part of CBS) about it, bringing the issue to a wider group of people. Let’s see what others have to say about it.

    That work?

    Thanks again for writing.

    Dave

  2. jrfibonacci Says:

    I wrote him this:

    Thanks Dave. I was not sure I would get a reply and that was pretty fast too.

    On Sat, Jun 25, 2011 at 10:20 AM, Dave Logan wrote:

    Hi J.R.,

    Thanks for the note. I’m not an economist, but I have co-taught many courses with economists, so I have at least a lay person’s understanding of what you wrote. (My area of expertise is corporate culture and general management.) You were clearly one of the few who called the downturn, so that gives you a lot of credibility in my world.

    We’ll take a look at that line, but please understand we did run it past several well-known people in the field, who said it’s generally accurate.

    JR:

    My assertion was not that it is so much inaccurate as that I was questioning the practical relevance. Mines that are emptied tend to result in ghost towns. People who are well-known economists, but cannot predict what will happen as the productivity of a mine slows and then stops, may say many irrelevant things. “Context is decisive.”

    DAVE:
    The point of the line was simply to add weight to the argument we made that organizations often put profits ahead of broader concerns, and sometimes, the rules let them do so. I don’t take any of what you wrote to contradict that conclusion.

    JR:
    So, I was not criticizing the “argument” or observation that organizations and organisms generally prioritize, and sometimes by putting profits (or even just financial solvency) ahead of other concerns (looking good, strict compliance with a particular law, ecological intelligence, etc). All laws are broken sometimes- but laws also change. All laws are enforced selectively, too.

    You mentioned that it was rare for a forecaster to call the downturn. It was a “minority position,” but lots “called” at least parts of the sequence, such as Elizabeth Warren, who wrote “the coming collapse of the middle class” several years ago.

    I mention her because she used to be the head of the SEC in the US [error: she was going to be the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she helped created, but she was actually never installed because of political opposition], but resigned indicating that the reality of politics did not allow her to enforce the laws as written, that is, that the “good ol’ boys network” had established their power and the laws were something of a smokescreen- and I am very loose in my paraphrasing here. So, it is not always just as you say… that the rules “let them do so [externalize],” but that the rules are just words. Sometimes, enforcement (the actual operations of organized coercion) is the issue, not words. Slightly related, here is a song with the lyrics: “words don’t make the green grass green.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAhL_smqZMo

    Now, in your email, you reference “organizations” as putting some interests in advance of others. In the book, you seem to focus (in a villifying way) on corporations as evil and governments as good, and generally ignore other organizations. It is a reasonable “binary” contrast, but given the economic reality (as distinct from politics and morality), I find it notable. For instance, do corporations have a monopoly of externalizing, or do governments also do that?

    Anyway, I assume that you have no “counter-correction” to my assertion that in the book (at least the edition I have), there is no useful distinguishing between “corporation” and any other type of “organization” or organizations in general. My latest point, bordering on morality but also a practical issue, is that corporations do not explicitly rely on violence as do governments. Corporations involve voluntary participation. Corporations operate in generally peaceful competition, though John Perkins (author of Economic Hit Man), might suggest that “peaceful” corporations are the ones who create and maintain governments to give the corporations monopolies on behaviors that for everyone else is punished as criminal.

    But I typically focus on less controversial perspectives, like for a general audience. To me, the “free market” measures the prioritizing of humans in general in a way that no other “instrument” can. It does not rely on violence, yet certainly does not exclude it.

    Governments certainly resort to organized violence in pursuit of resources like fossil fuel, as in some of the more obvious cases like the US currently in Iraq, or, not so well-known, on the islands of Diego Garcia. Note that I am not blankly criticizing governments for massive operations of organized violence. I am simply noting that there are disadvantages to destruction as a way of interacting with other people and the planet. I am not a pacifist, at least not as “significantly” as I have been in the past.

    We can say that corporations are bad because they spilled some oil and produiced industrial pollution. But governments have done things like drop atomic bombs on purpose on civilians. Which is more “innocent?” Which is more “dangerous?” What about the ecology of using atomic weapons?

    To me, the destruction might as well come from a tsunami- morality does not really matter, except how it does. From a “social engineering” perspective (akin to urban planning), it is important to me to recognize the massive violence conducted by the USSR, China, and many other governments in recent decades. Corporations build the missiles and such, but my focus is not big scale stuff anyway.

    I think people focus too much (for their own good) on corporations and governments and not enough on personal responsibility. Another way of putting that is that I favor focusing on personal responsibility and the results availabel through that focus.

    I look at big scale economic data to predict trends, then to consider personal adaptions that are prudent relative to major trends, then to group with others in adapting prudently, and on from there. Corporations and governments and churches and whatever organizations arise out of clarity and prudence and a commitment to personal adaption.

    The organizations that adapt most prudently, presumably, last and thrive. Same for individual organisms, whether of humans or oak trees.

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