Friday, May 15, 2009

Boomer-Consumers Will See Millenial Drive Towards Hyper-Capitalism

In a recent kpfa podcast , Rick Wolff and Harriet Fraad suggest a fundamental change in the relationship between employees and employers. According to the GBN panel, our passe version of capitalism works when employees justify their labor for wages by ever-growing status through ever-growing consumption. The labor-for-consumption model worked beautifully because wages rose for over 100 years, until the 1970s. After the 70's, consumption continued and was subsidized by growing mounds of debt and rising home values. With the implosion of home values and the deep recession, growing consumption as the justification for treadmill jobs is gone. In its place, individuals, particularly young people, will need to identify more directly with their work. We already see Millenials need to be true to themselves, a de-emphasis on material goods and caring less about job security than their parents, the Baby Boomers (really should be called the "Boomer-Consumers") (See Barbara Bylenga's work on Millenials at

What might this mean beyond increasing sales for "What Color is your Parachute"? As Millenials seek less job security (as they acquire less stuff) and move up Maslow's hierarchy to self-actualization, we'll see more entrepeneurs and that Millenials will change the companies they work for. Companies that want to recruit and retain young people will need to leave behind old-school business practices such as coordination via hierarchy and parent-child leadership. Instead, companies will need to implement peer-peer leadership and decentralized decision-making. For more on the comparison of mechanized and dynamic business models, see Dr. Homa Bahrami, PhD, UC Berkeley.

Millenials will also demand greater transparency for the profitability that they bring to their employers - AND - a greater piece of the action. In exchange for greater risk-taking, i.e., less job security, Millenials will usher in hyper-capitalism. Instead of the Marxist slogan, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", we'll have the Millenialist slogan "From each according to his creativity and stomach for risk, to each according to his profitability".

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Role of Power Brokers in Decision-making

In the late 1990's, Brooksley Born’s efforts to regulate the derivatives market slammed into the triumvirate of Washington’s finance power brokers: Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers and Bob Rubin. She was prophetic in her concerns yet ultimately unsuccessful in her attempts to regulate the derivatives market. Here’s a great article about this battle in the Stanford Magazine. How does any organization make decisions based on the best information and analysis, instead of capitulating to titanic personalities with the mega power bases? How will Obama score on this?