Sunday, April 26, 2009



Analysis can help you identify the problem and creativity help you solve it




John Bittleston


090420-Succeed BY ITSELF, information achieves nothing.

Decisions about what action to take must be based on analysis of it, and that means asking what the possible causes of the information are and what consequences it, and any action you decide to take, may lead to.

An example of this is the current recession partly created by the finance industry. Everyone is now trying to find someone else to blame except themselves. Apportioning blame solves nothing.

The recession is the result of a culture of inherent human greed that was inadequately constrained by making less greedy behaviour more rewarding.

Greed is not eating too much, although that can be a manifestation of it. Greed is about quantity and, importantly, timing. In the 1950s, John Osborne wrote I Want It Now and started a culture of greed and instant gratification that spread around the world.

Capitalism is partly based on the concept of greed, and it has worked extremely well for much of the world. Look around you. Everything you see is the result of capitalism.

However, you and I have created excessive expectations of capitalism, namely that it brings instant wealth and, consequently, happiness. Philosophically, we know this is not true, but we continue to behave as though it was. Why?

Because we naturally, even nobly, want to be self-sufficient and make our families economically secure. We may abuse wealth when we get it, but the reasons for wanting it are generally good.

So, how can we obtain the reasonable economic security that wealth can bring while deferring the unreasonably urgent need for it?

Exhortation to be less greedy does not work. People do have high personal standards ... sometimes. Unfortunately, there are enough people who do not — and enough times when those who do, forget them — that asking people to behave decently is not enough.

We must build into our reward systems a mechanism to make instant gratification unattainable but longer-term security possible. So far, I have demonstrated analysis.

The creative extra has to address and solve the problem that analysis has identified. If we do not want to constrain by law what people are paid (and I would be against doing so), we need to do two things.

First, we must ensure that the bulk, perhaps 80 per cent, of payments over a certain amount, say, $300,000, are made in the form of what I shall call attached shares.

These are shares in the company or organisation valued at the stock market price at the time they are granted. They can be sold only after the owner has held them for seven years or has died or has been diagnosed with a dreaded disease. They may be sold for no other reason, not even if the owner is fired or resigns.

The above rule would apply not only to companies but to public bodies as well.

That way, the consequences of managements decisions over the seven years after the shares are earned would be reflected in what the holder eventually gets. This is fair because he would have contributed to the management who are going to make the business succeed or fail.

Second, we need to have strong shareholder unions whose controlling bodies represent the individual as well as the institutional investors. These unions must have clearly laid down responsibilities as well as rights so that they do not become merely a shadow management. Their power will be exercised through the existing mechanism of shareholder voice, the General Meetings.

I have shown how analysis can identify a problem and creativity can help to solve it. You may disagree with my analysis or my solutions. If you do, why not try the same process to arrive at yet more creative answers?

John Bittleston mentors people in business, career and their personal lives at

From TODAY, Succeed – Monday, 20-April-2009


Post a Comment