Archive for August, 2012

I Versus We, Me Versus You

For three full decades we’ve seen wrenching social dislocations in America’s rust belt occur when an unleashed, unchained, and morally unregulated private sector picks winners and losers. Today, roughly 23 million Americans are currently unemployed or under-employed, more than five million American homeowners have suffered foreclosure since the 2008 start of the financial “Great Recession” and, as Katrina vanden Heuvel reports in her recent “Extremism in defense of Gilded Age privilege” opinion piece, “the top 1 percent of Americans captured a staggering 93 percent of national income growth in 2010.” Statistics emerging from 2011 and 2012 threaten more of the same.

As a pathway back from this wealth inequality abyss, the Fall edition of the Harvard Business Review, “Managing Your Stakeholders,” stands out as an intriguing oxymoron in a shareholder-centric, “we built it all ourselves” economy that rewards practicing global labor arbitragers with oversized private equity fees for services rendered. The most original piece, “CEOs Must Engage All Stakeholders,” by Venkat Ramaswamy and Kerimcan Ozcan, highlights technology-induced “structural shifts in value creation” platforms that propel successful companies to “engage the individual in both defining and delivering” what really matters to “business-civic-social ecosystems.” According to the authors, these “experience-based,” “co-creative” engagement platforms (“assemblages of people, interfaces, processes, and artifacts”) reach outward rather than inward, embrace the synergistic global creative village rather than glorify just one leading individual, and represent the “new engines of capitalism” with a “more holistic wealth creation process” as their natural outcome. (more…)

An Abundance Of Effective Narrative

We cheered in Times Square and in front of big screens across the country earlier this hot August when NASA’s Curiosity rover, like an interplanetary lodestone harkening a better tomorrow, landed on the planet Mars in search of water and life. Turning seven projected minutes of engineering terror into an evening of flawless execution, we stood tall and united during those moments as living metaphor for what’s possible when America sets out to nail the impossible.

Compared to Curiosity, everything else seems much more down to earth like the stories we are asked to vote for and believe in that don’t grab us where we live with the same happy endings. Gut-check credibility is missing from contrived and staged anecdotal evidence mish-mashed into sound bites and voice-over alarmist visuals graphically depicting policy disease without bipartisan cures. Overrun by a blitzkrieg aerial bombardment of antagonistic and mutually cancelling out campaign videos that rarely rise above the aggravating and invasive media din factor, we emerge numb to too much sound bite titillation believing none of it and wishing it would all just go away.

In this campaign season of anonymously purchased bombastic condemnation, America is missing narratives showing a compelling hard-earned moral center, an uplifting centrifugal force of conviction-centered innovation and leadership to lead us out of seemingly pre-destined unemployment and shared risks without rewards bondage where only an excruciatingly small subset in an obese nation is living large. Like cultural junkies sniffing for linked-in glue to bind our professional destinies to place-based economies that can’t get off-shored or outsourced by someone who isn’t us, we search desperately for authentic authenticity anywhere from anyone. Surviving our own version of “The Hunger Games,” we hesitate to volunteer to believe in a country that declares vehemently and vociferously what it opposes but doubles over trying to spit out and land what it stands for against the omnipresent backdrop of a very fortunate few hitting all their numbers while everyone else wonders out loud how pitifully sad their old age will become as they borrow from their children. (more…)

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