Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Future of Enterprise

The political changes that are sweeping our nation are also affecting the future of enterprise. And while the “old guard” of society seems to be desperately seeking evidence of a return to common ideals and shared experiences, what is instead emerging are demands for change that seem to be grounded in a diffusion of concepts and cultures, but which appear nonetheless to be adaptively converging into a tidal wave that is enveloping enterprise and governments alike. The integrating vectors of this new wave of constituent thinking are calling on the future of enterprise to be inclusive, transparent, and inventive:

Be inclusive. Pluralism requires that every stakeholder be a supportive party to the solution. The days of elitism (where a few decide what is best for everyone) and populism (where a simple and often slim majority imposes its will on the remainder) are waning in favor of a new yearning for super-majorities of hyperactive constituents.

Be transparent. Stakeholder confidence in enterprise management regimes can only “reset” if the financial state of the firm is reported in real-time, and the underlying assumptions of financial projections are fully disclosed. Indeed, all future paths for enterprise management (including governance) should be paved in disclosure.

Be inventive. Effective enterprise will require new concepts and technologies that transcend monopolization and commoditization in order to achieve more authentic and genuine forms of competitive advantage that respect the community, environment, and security challenges of our time. Moreover, while past solutions have most often focused on ways to mitigate risk, the time has arrived for inventive thinking that actually reduces the risks our society fears most, both natural and manmade.

As a businessperson, I have begun looking for new projects that are “real,” by which I mean projects that require inclusive teamwork, non-proprietary transparency, and an inventive spirit that seeks to address business problems in ways never before considered. The future of enterprise is upon us – and it is real.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spreadsheets Are Back

A recent poll of over one thousand LinkedIn members returned some interesting insights into spreadsheet usage patterns in companies. Respondents were posed with the following statement, and were then asked to provide a single response as follows:
I use spreadsheets _____ in my work.
· Never
· Rarely
· Monthly
· Weekly
· Daily
The results found that 80% of respondents use spreadsheets on a daily basis, while another 11% use spreadsheets weekly. In all, over 90% of respondents are apparently using spreadsheets at least weekly in their jobs.

The other interesting finding was that spreadsheet ubiquity was at its greatest in enterprise and large firms where a full 85% of resondents reported using spreadsheets on a daily basis, while another 10% reporting weekly usage.

One respondent left a comment claiming to have selected "daily" only because "constantly" and "hourly" were not offered as options. Still another respondent voiced surprise that "daily" users were less than 95%. One apparent critic of spreadsheets commented that the poll was "a waste of time."

Results were generally even across age groups. However, males reported somewhat higher daily spreadsheet usage than females. The survey was open to all LinkedIn users between April 24 and May 19, 2009. There were 1,094 voluntary participants in the survey.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Challenging Commoditization and Monopolization

I recently responded to an article by Max J Pucher entitled, “The End of Capitalism," and I wanted to share that response here in order to introduce my views about how economic reform must subordinate to political reform in order to resolve our society’s economic woes:

I have to agree that “capitalism” is not what I see operating the new economy. In fact, governments long ago rallied in support of two opposing themes that are rank with proximity to the economic crisis. These two contradictory themes are monopolization and commoditization. Everyone knows what a monopoly is, and it is evident that enterprise-scale monopolies such as government and healthcare are thriving in the new economy. The second theme of the new economy has been the rampage of commoditization through major industries, whereby goods and services become undifferentiated resulting in loss of pricing flexibility. Lower prices is good news for consumers, but often results in lower wages for workers. Two industries that have been ravaged by commoditization are financial services and automobile production. That these industries would become the leading scapegoats of the expanding economic crisis is of little surprise.

The global economic system has become a corrupt choice of supporting either “big government” or “big business,” making the real losers the people and society. This polarization of the political economy is untenable. Society’s only hope is that the electorate reframe the debate from “economic” to “political” reform, whereby we the people accept that elitism (which advocates extreme commoditization of industries) and populism (with its relentless and expanding commitment to government sponsored monopolies, including national security and healthcare) should now yield to pluralism, and devote instead the energies and resources of government toward the broader needs of a more active and relevant citizenry, albeit at the expense of “enterprise” scale designs. Indeed, it may be time to relook the notions of republicanism and federalism as the political systems upon which to ground capitalist society. We, the people, have much work ahead of us in order to reinvent our world into pluralism in our time. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Limited Purpose Banking

Prof Laurence Kotlikoff and Dr John Goodman make an interesting case for so-called, "limited purpose banking," the essence of which is that "banks would let people gamble, but they would not themselves gamble." Their modest proposal has intriguing potential. Check it out...

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