People want jobs that have a Purpose, a deeper dimension of meaning and usefulness than mere profit or sales. How can we transform our companies and our world through Purpose? A campaign is the answer. Ultimately, a campaign turns purpose into action.
July 17, 2009

Paying Students for Performance: Should Kids Be Managed Like “Talent”?

I believe that the suggestion to compensate children for performance does not take into account a key characteristic of all compensation systems: They are all zero sum games. This means that the way some people ( talented or otherwise differentiated) are compensated more is by compensating others less. Otherwise compensation, worthy or not, is just an increase in costs. It is conceivable that some school districts might want to increase costs by introducing scholarships on merit; this has been happening for centuries. Claiming that this is right because companies also pay for talent is not necessary. Worse, it is wrong because the proposal is not accompanied by any suggestion on who will be compensated less and how will that be achieved. In other words the proposal is lacking in novelty and is teaching a wrong lesson.

July 15, 2009

I think the meaning of three different words could help define what is coaching, a question that is asked quite frequently. The best books about leadership development, all of them written in Greek thousands of years ago, distinguish coaching from training and mentoring. Coaching is building on strengths. Training is addressing weaknesses (educating is preserved for weaknesses in knowledge), Mentoring is focused on potential. Please let me know if this is helpful

July 14, 2009


The G 8 meeting in Italy was a failure, because it was an event with an agenda looking for a Purpose. While unemployment is the dominant issue in the West, reaching agreement on climate change and free trade dominated the agenda.

Climate change is Social Democracy in our times. It promises well being, which is an extension of a State that promises universal healthcare and welfare. It sells fear of the unpredictable and the hope that Governments can protect people from disasters. It, therefore, enjoys a lot of political support. However, it costs a lot of money. During the G 8 the developed countries refused to give $150b to the developing countries by 2020 for them to do their part.

On the other side of a traditional ideological divide stands Free Trade. Free Trade is the defensive line of the free market loyalists. State capitalism, as practiced in China, was recently proven more effective in achieving growth than free markets in the West. Private companies, especially the Banks, are now trusted even less than public bureaucracies in preserving wealth. What keeps free marketers in the market of ideas is free trade. In the last twenty years hundreds of millions of people were elevated from poverty and consumers enjoyed incredible bargains because Governments lowered tariffs.

A problem with Free Trade, as with all liberal ideas, is that when practiced in extremes it produces change approaching anarchy. A problem with client mitigation, as with all socialist ideas, is that it costs money. A problem with both ideas is that they do not really address unemployment in the West. However, unemployment in the West is now the big political problem of our times. Politicians are downplaying this and for a good reason: they are ashamed that they do not have any ideas on how to solve it. Central Bankers prefer to fight inflation. After all, solving a nonexistent problem has never harmed any body`s carrier.

The green revolution is the strategy of the left for employment. However, it is a common secret that in the short term it can only produce a trickle of jobs and then most of them will need to be subsidized. Innovation has always been the strategy of the right for employment. However, this seems to have also failed. After years of emphasis on innovation, competitiveness and the like, the US and the UK are experiencing unemployment rate of 10% and Spain of 20%. It seems that new jobs are not nearly enough to cover losses in traditional jobs. We are clearly at an impasse. Companies die, but humans survive as unemployed with no prospects.

The question then arises: what is the next episode to the drama? History would suggest protectionism, the word that G 8 cooperation was supposed to relegate to the dustbin of ideas. Protectionism is today uniting the extremes of right and left. The former welcome it because they see it as a reinstatement of national sovereignty. The later can practice it under the mantle of advancing climate mitigation.

Protectionism is already here; we are just too afraid to tell, because we also know that in the past it caused several wars. The US is already practicing it. According to the new energy bill, products from countries that do not cap and trade will face tariffs. Others were even faster. Months ago, the Chinese earmarked their huge stimulus package to help only their companies. A year ago, the Russians gave up on the ambition to join the World Trade Organization. The big news is that protectionism is back as the main lever of policy against unemployment -without any of the G 8 Governments admitting it. Protectionism- though not pronounced for reasons of political correctness- is written in the fine print of all bail outs, stimulus packages or stabilization plans introduced by the G 8 members.

Nikos Mourkogiannis
Nikos is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of Strategic Leadership. With over 25 years experience at the highest levels of industry and strategy consulting, Nikos is an independent consultant who has created an elite global network of alliance partners specializing in Strategic Leadership, Purpose Led Transformation and Human Capital...
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