“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”
Peter F. Drucker
“Efficiency is doing the thing right.
Effectiveness is doing the right thing.”
Peter F. Drucker
Well. It took me far too long to recognize why Bernie Sanders is appealing to young people so much.
I knew it wasn’t “revolution” because while that generates passion in the young <it is associated with overturning status quo> it isn’t grounded in the kind of realism which creates a true active & involved following.
I knew it wasn’t simply that the system is “rigged” because while that generates some anger or frustration it doesn’t generate the ‘measured optimism’ you feel from younger people.
I also knew the empty criticisms of the young of being lazy, entitled, idealistic, pampered, naïve … are 99% bullshit.
So while Bernie can sometimes feel a little like the Pied Piper I knew there was something deeper.
The deeper ‘thing’ happening is something I have written about ad nausea and believe is what is creating conflict in the business world. It is what the younger generation wants to embrace in business and career versus what the older generation sees as the way to conduct business and what is important in a career.
Yeah. We seem to forget that each generation creates their own imprint – on society, on culture, on values … and, yes, on business.
My generation was about “efficiency dollars.” How could we squeeze every dollar out of a business with the least resources. We squeezed quality and effectiveness under the scrutiny of efficiency.
The generation before me was about “maximizing quality dollars.” This was about bloated profit margins and charging for high quality output <whether it was actually high quality or not>.
This younger generation sees their own version of business <I speculate it is the “added value dollar” management>. They seek ‘effectiveness’ as defined by Drucker. We may confuse this with ‘having a purpose’ or ‘something bigger’ or , as Bernie suggests, ‘less idolatry of money’, but it is more that younger people want to work in a world which values doing the right thing while making money and less about meaningless material shit.
Now. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to make money. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like money.
It just means they view the business world they want to work in as one doing the right thing versus doing something simply to make money.
This is not a revolution. This is simply a generation standing up and saying ‘here is how we wish the world would view success.’
There may be an ‘anti-establishment’ aspect to what is going on but I would argue it is less about government and less about a ‘rigged system’ and more about a desire to create the system they envision as better than what is. And while Sanders is tactically impractical and offers some unachievable things which are counter to American culture & existing behavior he does offer a vision of a world which the young could embrace … rather than the current world in which the 50somethings are beating the crap out of their hopes and ‘business and career everyday conduct’ desires
The change that this younger generation seeks certainly has some societal aspects but they realistically understand that 80% of their lives is made up of their life in the working world. They also realize, and rightly believe, that if they could conduct business the way they believe it should be conducted that many of the issues we face will inevitably be resolved.
I would guess if asked in one-on-one interviews the young people following Bernie could give a shit if we break up the big banks or big business or even Wall Street. They envision change would occur if they actually were in positions WITHIN the system to create the desired behavior.
They want a chance to do it their way.
Personally? I want them to have a chance to do it their way.
And, yet, they need to understand that the lure of money is corruptive – to a business and to each individual’s moral imperative.
“Few people- and probably no one outside the executive suite – sees much reason for the very large executive compensations. There is little correlation between them and company performance.”
Peter F. Drucker, The Frontiers of Management (1986).
Drucker, in The Frontiers of Management (1986), described this as the “Greed Effect” <he also discussed this in terms of economic salvation in 1989 New Realities>.
To be clear, greed is an easy thing to conceptually dismiss but incredibly difficult to practically fend off as more & more money <and your lifestyle changes with the more money> enters into your Life equation.
Where I think the younger generation may be slightly naïve is to not understand that.
And I think Bernie is extremely naïve on this <mostly because he doesn’t have any business experience>.
Money is here to stay. And the desire to make money & have money is productive — when well managed.
To me there needs to be a shift not in the system but in the heads & hearts of the participants – leaders & employees.
And that is where I saw a difference between Bernie & Hillary in 2016 (and I imagine someone in 2020 will draw a comparison).
Bernie doesn’t know diddleysquat about business but his personal issue, idolizing money is bad, coincides with the younger generation’s belief that there has to be more to life than making gobs of money and going into business every day being measured on outcomes <rather than what is the right thing to do>.
Hillary also doesn’t know diddleysquat about business but her personal issue, removing problems/barriers, not only does not coincide with the younger generation’s attitudes but also does not appeal to what every business person knows … “results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.” <Peter F. Drucker>. She does not inspire empowerment but rather offers government solutions to enable an individual to be less constricted with regard to opportunity.
One suggests you will be able to take the bull by the horns <”because I believe you are capable to do so”>.
One suggests we will fence in the bulls <”because I believe if the bulls are gone you are freer”>.
Both are good solutions, but younger people are more apt to be full of piss & vinegar and will take the former over the latter. That is <mainly> why young people follow Bernie.
Look. I do think a successful business needs compensation as a reward and incentive and that they should be directly tied to the achievement of objectives <or progress>. And I do believe that compensation systems should not be so rigid as to exclude special rewards for “performance over and above the call of duty.”
But I do believe that each business generation arm wrestles the torch from the prior business generations as they create the business environment they envision and the objectives can change therefore the compensation rewards would inevitably change.
And that is what Bernie is really tapping into. And, frankly, I agree. I just don’t agree with going about it like he is suggesting.
Making money is good.
Wanting to make money is good.
Having money is good.
I get tired of reading over and over and over again about anger and anti-establishment and … well … everything else almost every politician or political pundit keeps blabbing about. I wish they would start discussing attitudes & behaviors and why generations are threatened and other generations are inspired to attempt change.
In the end it will not matter to America, or any country for that matter, to make some nebulous ‘political party’ unite. What will matter is to unite, or align, generations. We need the 50somethings to embrace the opportunities the 20somethings have to offer the existing powerfully effective systems and, conversely, we need the 20somethings to embrace the opportunities the 50somethings have provided them.
originally published April 2016