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Archive for August 29th, 2007

Photo: Jim Cunningham leading the chase in the final laps of the 2006 Greenville Classic Criterium

From Don Boudreaux’s Cafe Hayek blog:

“There are two kinds of people in the world. Members of the first group think of jobs as being rather like boxes, each of which has a monetary figure on it as well as a set of levers inside. A job-holder occupies a box, yanks on the box’s levers, and in return receives pay in the amount of the prescribed monetary figure. Lucky workers are those who land in boxes paying big money and whose levers are easy to manipulate; unlucky workers are those who find themselves in boxes paying little money and whose levers are difficult to manipulate.”

“The second group of people in the world understands that real jobs are a matter of creating value for buyers. The greater the amount of value I create for others, the better — or, at least, the higher-paying — is my job. In markets, your job isn’t a box that you get assigned to; your job is an opportunity to perform, to help improve the lives of others and, in return, to persuade these others to help you improve your life.

“And one of the most important of these performances is corporate management — the ability to coordinate large amounts of resources, time, and workers in ways that create large amounts of value for others and that makes it easier for those of us with less vision and administrative ability to find jobs that maximize the value that each of us, individually, creates for others.”

I still run into way too many senior execs who run their organizations like piles of boxes. Every time I do, I don’t know… it just makes me cringe. I get turned off. I wonder how much longer the companies they manage will continue to be profitable.

Perhaps more to the point, I wonder how much more profitable they would be if they shed their old ways and made the jump to the second group. If they championed the recruiting and mentoring of T-shaped talent and favored operational flexibility over the limitations of rigid job hierarchies.

I guess that when you belong to the first group and are one of the lucky ones (big money/easy levers), there isn’t much of an incentive for you to rock the boat and be an agent of change.

Like Don said, there are two types of people in this world. You’re either one or the other. The question is, which one are you?

Have a great Wednesday. 🙂

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