Hear that background noise? Some think that’s just a national political campaign. It’s not. Listen. That’s not the sound of political campaigning, it’s the sound of the final death throes of the last dinosaurs of the bureaucratic era just a moment before their extinction. We hear the horrendous clashing, groaning, wailing, and gnashing of tusks of the last dinosaurs yowling and lamenting the extinction of their species. It is sunset for the bureaucratic age, and these dinosaurs—just like all species just before they go extinct—fight harder, kick, scratch, and bite more aggressively just before the end, just before their species dies out. Curiously, both dinosaurs lament the same change—from the Bureaucratic Age to the Entrepreneurial Age with its resultant structural and cultural shifts.
The bureaucrats have become more resistant as they see the horizon approaching. Really hard core bureaucrats who cannot imagine any other existence for themselves are doing everything possible to impede the shift to the entrepreneurial world. But even though their resistance is currently very strong, have you noticed that all of the heroes in today’s world are entrepreneurs? Not political leaders, not glorified military leaders, not sports heroes, but EOM leaders. Managers of the most well known bureaucracies—government, corporate, military, trade union—are no long respected. As a group they are mired in the past, unresponsive to the present, and resisting the future.
Dan Sullivan points out that of course the bureaucrat resists anything new. A person who is dominated by wanting it the way it was in the past finds life in our changing world increasingly difficult, unsatisfying, threatening, and fearful. This is why they find the present external global landscape change so threatening. The future goal of these individuals is to return to patterns of the past.
Since about 1945, Americans have been living in the golden age of bureaucracy and entitlement. Yet, during this incredible period of prosperity and social growth, never have more people been dissatisfied. There was so much wealth created, taxes paid, and opportunity for bureaucratic expansion that governments, public companies, and unions began mission creep, increasing their overheads and permanent staff, claiming that they were necessary to optimizing modern society. They promised that the problems of our mass popular culture: poverty, inequality, crime, disease, unemployment—hell, unease—would be solved through increased government spending on public sector programs and by lifetime employment in big bureaucratic public companies. The message of bureaucracies is that individuals are no longer responsible for themselves; a bureaucratic entitlement society is responsible for everyone.
Some of us are unwilling to merely accept the narrative fallacies (tired, untruthful old wives’ tales) or conventional pat answers to our new challenges (even when it is easier to do so). To the greatest extent, the dinosaurs are addressing problems that are already solved, or at least have morphed into completely new ones. Do us all a favor and inform the next person who feeds you that worn-out line “everyone knows manufacturing in the US is in decline” that they are either ill-informed or disingenuous. The fact is US manufacturing output has more than doubled during our careers. What has declined is the number of people employed in manufacturing. Making more things with less labor hours is called productivity. See this chart from the Federal Reserve of St. Louis: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/INDPRO.
Noah Yuval Harari writes “for the first time in the history of the world, more people die today from eating too much than eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists, and criminals combined.” The next challenges are no longer land, labor, capital, but almost entirely psychological and technological ones. We no longer live in a world of scarcity, but a world of abundance. Knowledge is cumulative and easily shared. Evolution is messy, humans fail, and species go extinct. This extinction is an essential part of creative innovation for the rising billion. Yet we hear the distant roar of clashing dinosaurs flailing about how to slice and divide the pie, rather than setting EOMs free to create a bigger pie.
Irrational pessimism has consequences. The dinosaurs who got us “here” are not the new leaders who are going to take us “there.” The dinosaurs will soon be extinct. Can’t wait to see what comes next.
References and Further Reading
Eagleman, David. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. New York: Vintage Books. 2012. Print.
Employment 2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/01/art5full.pdf
Harari, Yuval Noah. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Harvill Secker. 2016. In Pre-Release Galley.
McCloskey, Deirdre. Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2016. Print.
Photo. Retrieved from http://jurassicpark.wikia.com/wiki/Spinosaurus_vs._T._rex_Scene
Sullivan, Dan. How The Best Get Better. Toronto: Strategic Coach Inc. 2001. Print.