Big Brother’s Little Brother
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Steven Levitt reminds me of a younger version of Tom Peters. I heard him speak at a luncheon gathering recently and he certainly lived up to his reputation as co-author of Freakonomics. I like Levitt because he strikes me as being genuinely exceptional at what he does. Most important of all, he speaks sense and management listens (or at least nods in unison).
A quote I learnt from a history lesson decades ago is this: ‘Everyone knows what’s right, but only the Spartans do it.’ As I recall, it was uttered by an old man at an Olympic Game after a young Spartan gave up his seat in an arena full of firmly seated Romans.
Like the boy who cried out at the sight of the naked Emperor, Levitt said the problem with the business today is that they think feedback is no longer important.
Levitt’s lessons on success seem simple:
- Think differently in an obvious way
- Go where innovation is valued
- Get feedback then follow through (instead of succumbing to conventional wisdom).
Perhaps by continuing our search for excellence, we are now connecting more and more people committed to ‘make things new’ (paraphrasing Ezra Pound). Newness increases appeal and enough appeal can create the tipping point that makes change possible.
Levitt shows us how economics can be much more than bamboozle-by-bean-counting. He’s a brilliant example of how we can turn selfish programming into green energy. Marvellous.