November 19, 2011

Let's not just blame #MBA grads for our hypercapitalism

Forbes has a good column about problems with manufacturing companies, specifically high-tech ones, focusing on the bottom line, even to the extent they "part themselves out" more and more.

It primarily blames business schools and MBAs for this problem, but that's not the total story as I see it.

The problem is far more. It's the physics PhDs who became "quants." It's the computer programmers inventing new programs, and the hardware engineers inventing new computers, to trade microseconds faster based on those quants' ideas, in part. It's the portion of Occupy Wall Street who was tempted to work for those high-dollar jobs before later, after being laid off or never hired, discovering that Wall Street is evil.

Beyond that, I'd argue that the story doesn't go far enough, and goes in somewhat wrong directions. "Continuous innovation"? Sounds nice, but, in the hands of an Apple, becomes instead the groundwork for sped-up planned obsolescence, or, even more *alleged* planned-up obsolescence in the name of addictive hypercapitalism. Steve Jobs didn't have an MBA and neither does Michael Dell. In both cases, they're "leaderly" enough to run their companies in a less hypercapitalist fashion, should they so choose.

And, it's the consumers, driven by often-irrational human nature, who buy into this hypercapitalism, whether it's "Having" to own the latest iPhone, having to have the bigger house, etc., who help cause this, too.

We all need to learn to say "no" to hyperconsumerism more. And we have to be honest about just how embedded in American life it has become.

We need to be paying people more to develop ideas. And contra the Amazon/Apple/Google "infowars" battle, we need to be paying people to more freely share these ideas.

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