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Monday, September 20, 2010

What Did You Do To Cause This Recession?

An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.
Laurence J. Peter

A friend tried to get an advertised 10% off her phone bill. After 2 hours and numerous contacts she finally got a phone number to call tomorrow to see if that group knows how to get the discount.

When the economy went into the tank we ended up with a vast amount of Americans unemployed. Which ones could have helped customers get that 10% discount? Did any of those unemployed people have a job where they made the discount harder to obtain? Not everyone contributes to a better business. In any sizable group of people, some are good, some are bad. Which ones are the leaders and which ones are the smartest?

In our world we have valued individuals based on college education, job title, responsibilities and experience. Currently younger college educated people are having a hard time finding work as are the 50+ white collar workers. Like a piece of real estate, those two groups of workers have lost their value.

Was the cost of employing so many people not paying off? Or did the economy take away the business that paid the salaries. Anyone who has worked with a bad boss or a bullying HR department knows that not everyone is doing work that directly earns money. A software engineer may work 16 hour days developing a product only to one day find his job has ended. But business decision makers can be like cargo cult leaders and they may one day remove all of the useful people and leave behind an office full of white collar folk who have meetings all day wondering what to do next.

It is of course very complicated. Without sound business decisions, the money will dry up. The value of employing business decision makers is thus based on the companies financial health. The value of the product developers is based on whether or not people want to buy their product over the competitors. If you like X Box better than Play Station 3, you give your money to Microsoft. The business people must employ the product developers and direct them to make the best product. The business people must then shift the cost of business from R&D to sales.

But I end this post on a positive note. I have stepped out of the product development side of my own Cargo Cult business. For sanity purposes I am going back to my old ways of thinking more, working less. And I will write more.