Communism is dead. Long live (corporate) Communism!

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Communism

The sensible consensus is that communism became all but extinct with the end of the Cold War. I say it may be so, but the mindset that fueled it continues to live unhindered. Your next thought may be that I am referring to North Korea. But I have something much closer to home in mind: the U.S. corporate sector. Yes, you didn’t misread. I will dare to say that the mindset of the corporate sector in 2014 is eerily reminiscent of communist thinking.

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Business – a form of human expression

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The tagline “people are our most valued resource” has been so abused by the corporate world that it no longer means anything to anyone. I suspect that in the near future it will be eventually qualified as an offensive truism, and rightfully so. The sooner it disappears off the face of the planet, the better of humanity at large will be.

The debate on the humanism of business continues to be part of a public discourse infused with various degrees of political innuendo – see the 99% movement, the shareholder value argument, etc.

I propose a simple new take on what business is: a form of human expression.

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When competence is offensive

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I remember vividly a meeting that took place a few years ago. I was a management consultant tasked by the owner of a large corporation with overseeing the creation of a new profit and loss business unit. My nemesis was a Vice President who did not want to see his power and “territorial” claims diminished by the new venture. Typical power games and office politics were very much at play. The owner liked to delegate and had a “survival of the fittest mentality” to mediating conflict.

The three of us had gotten together because the named Vice President was overtly sabotaging my efforts. He was making the case to the owner that, while the idea of the new business unit was great, the consultant was poorly fit for the job.

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Strategy vs. Resilience

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Back in 2006 I was part of Lockheed Martin’s strategy department. I had been with the company for 6 years, and had successfully graduated their 3-year long Leadership Development Program that groomed young professionals into future executives.

I would be traveling regularly to Europe, California, Florida and New York, overseeing a number of advanced research projects and international business partnerships. I was a firm believer in strategy, and the strategic planning process that was so carefully coordinated by smart, battle hardened people with white hair.

That’s when an idea took hold: would all my strategy acumen give me an edge in an emerging economy? Could I be a successful entrepreneur there as opposed to an employee in the U.S.?

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The greatest risk to democracy is intrinsic

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If democracy should eventually fail, it will be by popular vote!

No totalitarian or fundamentalist regime has the means to challenge the military might that results from the wealth generated by free enterprise. What crazed ego-maniacal self-proclaimed leaders opposed to freedom and free enterprise might be unable to do, advanced societies might still achieve on their own.

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Do you still make mistakes?

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I’ve taken my aliens seriously ever since I was twelve. As a kid, after reading a good Von Daniken ancient alien piece, I would open the windows to the house wide open in the dead of winter – in case “they” came, I would always have an escape route. They fortunately never came.

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Organizational Transformation and Development

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One of the lasting memories I have from the Peter Drucker Global Forum event held in Vienna, Austria in November 2013 is of the great Charles Handy. His speech was great. But what amused me more was his playfulness. His willingness to still take chances. I caught him staring intently for what must have been a minute at an 100 year old “hop-on-hop-off” wooden elevator with no doors that still functions in the building of the Federation of Austrian Industries building in Vienna (see picture below). Eventually he hopped onto the moving elevator and everything turned out fine to my relief.

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Measuring our way into meaninglessness, stagnation and crisis

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I posit excessive measurement is the culprit behind the world’s biggest problems, as well as the likely initiator of its future crises. It is the largest hidden systemic risk to our future livelihood. Our obsession with quantity is the very incarnation of the materialistic credo, a worldview focusing on physical resources and antagonist to a knowledge economy.

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