Globalization and The Olympics (Part II)

As mentioned in our previous post (Globalization & the Olympics (Part I),  the Olympics, as well as sports in general, are a zero-sum-game. In contrast, and most fortunately, the globalization phenomena is not. Thus, in the globalization socio-economic phenomena at large, the possibilities are virtually unlimited. This rarely recognized, virtuous characteristic of globalization has to do with the fact that global society’s unsatisfied needs, by themselves signal the right course of action to follow. The signals of the road to follow are of a very varied nature, being the price mechanism one of the most important ones.

This course of action concept is a universal one, and as such, applicable to any human level: individual, corporate or nation. The course of action to follow is constantly signaled by huge opportunities in a myriad of activities in every area: from the glittering-headline-grabbing high-tech area, to less glamorous yet indispensable activities for human well-being (from lodging and restaurants, to taking care of children, the elderly, and gardening, among hundreds of activities). This is why so many nations in all corners of the planet (companies and individuals too) have not only adapted, but have been handsomely profiting from globalization. Those individuals, companies and nations, have made the right reading about what’s going on and where, and diligently have prepared themselves for those opportunities. Beyond the profitable areas of endeavor detected, being permanently prepared to learn new approaches, with an open, flexible mind, is the most valuable asset anyone can have, at the three levels previously mentioned. In that respect, in my book, GLOBALIZATION, numerous successful examples are provided.

In a nutshell, there are a few very important points to highlight when making the comparison between the Olympics and globalization:

  • Like in the Olympics, in globalization the most adequate mindset is the one that better suits competition: adequate prior training, high spirits, effective teamwork, and so on.
  • Like in the Olympics, globalization has to be a very orderly process, with clear cut rules, widely known by all participants. Big problems can be avoided if this aspect is adequately observed.
  • Like in the Olympics, the fundamental spirit behind globalization must be a joyful one, of gratitude to be able to access the global market, provided that the adequate preparatory work has been done appropriately.
  • Unlike in the Olympics,  given that globalization is not of a zero-sum-game nature, there is room for everyone, provided that major impediments to improve competitiveness are removed. Prejudice, fear and ignorance are usually behind the huge and very common impediments to raise competition in most places on Earth. In short, the key word of the successful globalization game is competitiveness.

In early July, from the 4th to the 16th of July, the 53d edition of the International Mathematical Olympiadtook place in Mar del Plata, Argentina. There were 548 contestants from 100 nations. This competition is for students younger than 20, not yet enrolled in universities. This annual event, that initiated in 1959 with only 7 countries in competition, was practically unmentioned in most media. Granted, a math olympics is not as glamorous as the sports Olympics. Nonetheless, knowledge and organization, in all shapes and forms is what successful competition in the global arena is all about. Unquestionably, there is plenty of room for improvement in the global society mindset, in order to better capitalize the many opportunities available for the organized, hard working teams, be it at the company or country levels.


The Olympics are an excellent manifestation of mankind’s high spirits. They are also, in many respects, a splendid testimonial and an unsurpassable role model for the globalization process at large.

Peter Higgs, the Subatomic Particle, and the Scottish Connection

Two months ago, on May 4, we posted an article titled ¨The Scottish Connection: ¨Adam Smith, Charles Darwin and Andrew Carnegie”.

A view of the Large Hadron Collider) in its tunnel at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland.

Today, at a press conference in Geneva it was announced:

Scientists at Europe’s CERN research centre have found a new subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe, which appears to be the boson imagined and named half a century ago by theoretical physicist Peter Higgs…

Two independent studies of data produced by smashing proton particles together at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider produced a convergent near-certainty on the existence of the new particle. (Reuters).

Very remarkably, Dr. Peter Higgs (83), an England native, the physicist who provided the theoretical foundation (essentially a mathematical approach) upon which this recent experiment is based, is currently an Emeritus professor of the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Higgs conducted in Edinburgh (in the early 60s) most of the research leading to the work in the Large Hadron Collider that has experimentally established the existence of a Higgs-like boson.

Most scientists agree that Higgs particle is the last undiscovered piece of the Standard Model that describes the fundamental composition of the universe. The model is to physics what the theory of evolution is to biology. For that reason, some commentators have labeled the Higgs boson as the “God particle”, for its role in turning the Big Bang into a living universe.

Another monumental contribution to mankind stemming from Scotland!


How Value Grows with Intentional Positive Globalization

There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “What cannot be measured cannot be improved.” This is a very simple statement with profound implications for our personal lives. It is also true in business and economics. Without accurate, reliable measurements of whatever we do, we have no frame of reference from which we can grow and improve.

positive globalizationMoreover, this is particularly important to improving human lives across the world. If any society truly wants to improve, the first step is to place itself within context. The leaders of that society – business leaders as well as policymakers – must know with certainty the relative position their country holds against other nations. Once a baseline or benchmark has been established, proper and reasonable goals, objectives and strategies can be developed to address our social issues and improve them.

Interestingly, at the end of the day, there’s no grand science behind making change and improving human life. The problem is this. It’s easy to sit and wait for human crises, then react and respond to them. It is a whole new way of living to be intentional, see opportunity and initiate change.

But opportunity rarely finds us. We must seek it out. When opportunity presents itself, fear keeps us from being intentional. But Seth Godin says that “you have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”

To help you find those trends and opportunities we have compiled four indices you can use:

With this information, value grows with the intentional. And, as you engage, you’ll find others will feel the need to belong. Fascinating how human behavior is, right? They will want to be led, to join you, to contribute. “We are drawn to leaders and to their ideas,” says Seth Godin, “and we can’t resist the rush of belonging and the thrill of the new.”

Your job is to make change.

The Fundamental Importance of Connecting the Dots

Knowledge is power—that is an unquestionable truth. On one hand, the whole world is totally immersed inside the information age, the knowledge era. The tools to successfully navigate it have already been developed and are both relatively accessible and extremely powerful. At the same time, the world is also fully immersed in an age of intensive and accelerated globalization. If these two elements are combined, the solution is within the problem itself. There is no way to overstate the importance of appropriately connecting the dots, tying up loose ends in order to achieve success in any human activity. This is a universal truth that knows no exceptions. It is such a simple truth that it is both humiliatingly simple and painfully obvious. However, judging by the enormous delays observed in most countries, it is clear that:

  • We live on an inconceivable level of unconsciousness.
  • There is a great lack of motivation to learn and an aberrant lack of interest in progressing. or alternatively…
  • There is a genuine desire of progress, but we do not know how.

Personally, I feel that it is a combination of points three and one, in that order. Human and social capabilities are immense, so long as they are coordinated take advantage of them. There are more than enough capabilities to fulfill and take advantage of life’s many challenges, as well as medium- and long-range goals and needs. No one invented everything, and everyone can and should learn from everyone. The world’s best success stories at all levels are awash in highly effective learning from others. It is the
only well-known route to progress. Thomas Edison summed it up superbly: “Genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration.”

Effective imitation is a true path to progress. Furthermore, it is an essential path to explore in order to excel at all levels. Every country that has successfully developed has broadly used learning by imitation. Probably the best examples are the Asian economies, from the Four Tigers in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, to China during the last three decades. Also, during Spain’s rapid development of the eighties, nineties, and a significant part of the first decade of the new millennium, it essentially reached the level of the rest of developed Europe. Spain emulated and reformatted itself into a close replica of the developed European countries, thus narrowing the gap with them. Chile has been undergoing a similar process during the past three decades with splendid results. As the popular proverb goes, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

The effect of imitation is extremely powerful. This is why it is essential to replicate anything and everything that is useful and constructive. And that is a most crucial aspect: it is critical to be able to distinguish right from wrong. Unfortunately, human nature picks up bad habits much more easily than good ones.

Imitation is the fundamental learning pattern from birth; that is how we learn to walk, talk, and ride a bicycle. It should not be surprising that this manner of behavior and learning goes on in a permanent basis, not just in infancy as a temporary pattern. However, what cannot be justified is that we adults do not seem to accept it easily. What a great opportunity missed!

And it isn’t only learning that operates that way. All human knowledge, no matter the area, essentially works in the same pattern. One example is electricity. Electricity was not invented by anyone. It was discovered and immediately began to be examined and analyzed by a myriad of scientists and researchers. One of the most picturesque and remarkable pioneers in these efforts was the self-taught Benjamin Franklin.

The same thing happens with the rest of physics and math. They deal, as does all human knowledge with existing relationships and structures. Humans have discovered, detected, studied, and analyzed them, developing and furthering our knowledge afterward. This is the only way to build up, to document, to apply, and most importantly, to transfer knowledge to future generations.

Social, political, economic, financial, and business areas are no different from the reasoning-and-learning pattern just described. Therefore, effectively tying those loose ends is of utmost importance. There is no way to overstate the importance of doing so adequately.

Contemporary Political Systems And Their Multiple Limitations

It seems to be taken for granted, all over the world –particularly in Western society, that all things equal, democracy is by and large the best political system ever conceived. Theoretically, it makes a lot of sense to look for governments essentially oriented to the population’s needs and aspirations. Alas, a highly effective and  functional way to materialize that idealistic concept is still very far from being a reality.

Throughout history, when very poor checks-and-balances systems have been in place, there have been too many excesses and devastating consequences. There are no exceptions to this.

Winston Churchill famously stated: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Thus, there doesn’t seem to be a better alternative outside of democracy. However, there are sufficient and conspicuous virtuous exceptions outside the democratic model that merit taking a look at them. By analyzing those virtuous exceptions, some important findings can be reached. Thus, revisiting this topic is a must. Let’s start first with a recent governmental exception.

Italy

As an unintended consequence of the ongoing European debt crisis, the Troika (the European Union, its Central Bank and the IMF) were left with practically no other option than to exert very heavy pressure upon the Italian government and appoint a previously agreed upon new prime minister. This compelling move from November 2011, was based on the evident incompetence both, of the Italian political system itself, as well as Berlusconi’s,  the former prime minister. Mr. Mario Monti, the newly appointed interim PM, will be in power for a period of 16 months –until the 2013 general elections. Monti also chose to personally take the Finance Minister position, given the extreme adverse circumstances in which he took power. Mario Monti was recalled from the presidency of prestigious Milan’s Bocconi University and sometimes consulted as a foremost expert on European matters. Mr. Monti has declared to have no political ambitions, and has been consistently declined to be a candidate to form a new government in 2013.

How can the Monti government be graded, until now. A resounding success, within the deplorable circumstances that he had been facing since day one. The major irony here is that Mario Monti, a technocrat, appointed as PM, outside of the typical population’s voting mechanism, has proved to be a roaring success. In sharp contrast, Silvio Berlusconi, one of the wealthiest businessmen in that country,  gained the PM seat through the formal party channels, with disastrous results. Berlusconi represents many of the worst vices and excesses possible, inept and highly corrupt.

In the Corporate World

The late Steve Jobs was not exactly a role model for corporate governance, as far as arriving at a decision by consensus. In short, he was an autocrat … but a very bright and effective autocrat!

By not behaving according to orthodoxy, given his exceptional capabilities, Steve Jobs was able to pull ahead of the rest of the industry in an astonishing way. It is now legendary that Jobs didn’t trust market surveys … instead relying almost exclusively on his personal instincts. Under normal circumstances, autocracy and being a lone wolf  is totally contrary to best practices; in Jobs case’s, however,  a great deal of his extreme effectiveness was based on unorthodoxy.

In Summary

There is plenty of room for lessons to be learned about governance, both at the public and corporate levels. The two exceptional instances briefly discussed, as well as many others, lend themselves very well as case studies.

There is ample room for improvement to adjust most models to be more responsive to meritocracy. The ancient Greek sages had a very clear objective about governance: ideally, the wisest and the fittest are the ones to govern.

A proper understanding of globalization and its positive effects is a most coveted asset for successfully navigating the global village waters. Governance is, undoubtedly –in all ways shapes and forms–, one of the paramount areas of progress for humanity. Under the “The ABCs to a Global Social Revolution” tab in this web page, there is a very specific, ambitious and provocative initiative in this regard.

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