Month: October 2013

Materiality and Leverage. Sibling rivalry or dream team?

Some people seem to live by materiality. Critical mass. Mounting a disaster relief effort to deliver the greatest relief for the greatest number. Making a decision on the balance of probability, or the weight of pros stacked up against the weight of cons. Letting the market decide. Judging success by box-office ratings. Judging guilt when it’s beyond reasonable doubt. Judging success on the overall number of votes. Monitoring averages and total magnitudes. Have lots of children, so some will hopefully survive.

Other people seem to live by leverage. Checking if the high profile critic they respect agrees with them (regardless of what the masses think). Using the opposition’s strength against them. Using their assets to their advantage. Choosing to have fewer children, to devote more attention to each. Analysing the outliers, not the crowd behaviour. Saving the last two animals at all costs, to prevent extinction. Leading by example. Saving the World one person at a time -after all, the child they save today may be tomorrow’s equivalent of Nelson Mandela. Einstein or Shakespeare.

In the business world, arguably it’s sibling rivalry. Accounting is rooting for materiality. Strategy, a fan of leverage. Maybe that’s the problem. And the opportunity. Is there a way accountants can see past materiality? And a way for strategists to be better strategists by embracing materiality?

In the entertainment world, arguably it’s sibling rivalry. People try to use every talent they have (leverage) to achieve success. With intense competition, fame can be short-lived and the scrapping is entertainment itself for many watchers.. The dignity in the industry might rise if critics were more generous about the long run performance of the entertainer (materiality).

In the high performance sports world, arguably it’s sibling rivalry – people seek a personal best time (over performance consistency) that exceeds the World record time, using all ethical technique and training effort (leverage).

In the legal world, arguably it’s a dream team. Consumer rights groups campaign by all means necessary (leverage) for improved professional ethics (material improvement in behaviour). Prosecution and defense lawyers do likewise for legal case outcomes.

In politics, it’s a dream team. Politicians use leverage (by all means necessary) to achieve popular support (sufficient votes to be re-elected) ie materiality. Sadly for them, voters use materiality when they can’t use leverage.




Beauty and Power

While walking down Piccadilly in London on a rain-soaked Saturday morning in October, a random but symmetrical thought suddenly popped into my head.  I know that generalising about genders is ambitious. It’s also controversial, a bit ‘Sex in the City’ and perhaps ill-advised. But even so, are gender paths & goals diverging, instead of converging – (many) men seeking power, while (many) women seek beauty? If so, it’s tragic that so few men reach a place of beauty from a place of power. And just as tragic, that so few women reach a place of power from a place of beauty.

A couple of examples – firstly, politicians weld power. But how much of what they do creates beauty – in communities or in the environment? Or even in new rules that endure, because they work and not stop good actions happening?

Secondly, fashion-house moguls push new fashion trends on their target markets on a seasonal basis. Their success might build an enduring brand, create jobs and be associated with increasing the share price of their companies. Their products also bring happiness (meeting practical need, novelty need or self-expression need)  to those wanting new clothes. Yet, apart from influencing fashion, do those fashion moguls have power in any other capacity?

Does choosing one path (beauty or power), guarantee that the other thing cannot being reached? And would the fans of power and beauty have more respect for each other, if they knew both paths ultimately led to the same place?

Going back to the sexes, we all want some kind of power and beauty for the next generation. So maybe on some level, all the fans do have something in common after all. Maybe the power and beauty brands those fans aspire to, need to inspire each other for the power of symmetry (and sanity) to prevail?