Sunday, 19 July 2009

History tells a story ... and it will continue to do so too!

Stephanie Flander's blog "Is economics a busted flush" turned out to be a great blog with lots of great comments & insight. It raised many issues (and many responses) see my two earlier posts "traditional economics is dead" and "traditional education is failing" ... but it has also much to say about 'creative outsiders', history, and the 'future history' too ... for instance take a look at a few of my comments (and others people's comments) below:

... 'Creative outsiders' (such as Dr. W. Edwards Deming) create breakthroughs because they are not constrained by existing frameworks and accepted norms (e.g. steered by mainstream education/practice). They are also naturally curious, ask lots of basic questions, and are often able to see things in a very different light. Traditional establishments/enterprises are well known for becoming almost 'blind' to new concepts/ideas ... they regularly reject (and sometimes fear) them too (for as long as they can at least) ... because they often undermine much of what they had previously come to understand (e.g. see Einstein, Galileo, Newton, Wegener ...) and it may not fit their frame of reference too (e.g. created by traditional mainstream education). This is why businesses regularly get overtaken by more innovative ones ... and it is 'why nations will fail' if they 'fail to be curious' too ... and it turns out there is a subtle cultural element to this too [Q: and do you think this favours countries like the UK/US?] ... This is turning into a very interesting/insightful discussion/blog ... well done for starting it off Stephanie .... (Post 88, leanomist)

... and the response to the question ... "Well yes, it favours the UK but it does not,,,now.,.favour the US. The problem with the US is that on the whole it is too conservative. It favoured Europe because there were a lot of independent thinkers (aka. rich, spoiled brats) who got into science. Those thinkers ran off to the US, but since WW2 they have been heading back to Europe and India, and with their departures the USA share of global GDP has been dropping. This is the kind of demographic megatrend that really shapes the national economy, and it transcends national policies. I think that we might see changes now - as Western enclaves like Shanghai in China become more attractive as places to REMAIN, as opposed to platforms to move on to MIT or UCLA, then the number of patents per locale per year (interesting metric) might shift in favour of China" .... (Post 98, FrankSz)

... and my response ... "The shift in knowledge creation from West to East is an interesting one, and this video is probably worth a look if you haven't seen it before (it also eludes to more fundamental failures in education too - which this blog has also been discussing). People from the far east also turn out to be more questioning and curious on average too. The east is also starting to train lots more scientists themselves as well, and some research establishments in the UK are already moving their work over there instead of doing it in the UK. A mega-trend indeed (with both short term and long term implications), and one that links well with the point I tried to make earlier - i.e. 'why nations will fail' if they 'fail to be curious' (nb and/or 'fail to understand, or act on, what they find!'). As we say, interesting times ahead - and another good point which shows yet more weakness in traditional economics, as well as some of the fundamental weaknesses in our economy (... you may also be interested in this blog too) ..." (Post 109, leanomist)

... and moving on to consider a little history (and the 'future of history') ...

... "Dr W. Edwards Deming was a US citizen who was mostly ignored in the US and went to Japan (who welcomed him with open arms) - and the US/UK had to quickly send a task force over there to try to understand what companies like Toyota were doing differently to General Motors - which turned out to be virtually everything - and was effectively the start of the 'lean movement' - and guess what most in the UK/US still don't 'get' this, or understand it - and guess what happened to GM? ... a $170bn bankcruptcy (the biggest in US history). History tells a story, and I'm afraid it will tell many more in the future too ... which is partly why I'm charting everything and highlighting some of risks that lie ahead" ... (Post 149, leanomist)

... and in response to the following question "Somewhere around 60,000 people in the UK now have an MBA. Has anyone ever looked at what impact this has had on the economy in the past 20 years or so?" ... this historical perspective was added too ...

... "I personally believe history will answer this by simply saying 'they were part of the team that got us where we are today' ... GM (and most other US/UK enterprises for that matter) have a lot of them, whilst companies like Toyota are well known for MBA's, but for their lack of them ... I think this, in a small way, partially supports this kind of assertion too ..." [NB this is referred to in my book too]. (Post 171, leanomist)

There are interesting times ahead, and as I mentioned above, this blog is helping to chart everything whilst highlighting some of the risks that lie ahead ... so we can hopefully avert some of them*, 'change the course of history' and avoid us 'becoming history' too ! ...

* as 'Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it' [Edmund Burke, 1729-1797]