Friday, December 31, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Young American

Our Holiday Season tradition here at People, Ideas & Objects is to post a works from Ralph Waldo Emerson. This year is The Young American, enjoy.

A Lecture read before the Mercantile Library Association,
Boston, February 7, 1844


It is remarkable, that our people have their intellectual culture from one country, and their duties from another.  This false state of things is newly in a way to be corrected. America is beginning to assert itself to the senses and to the imagination of her children, and Europe is receding in the same degree. This their reaction on education gives a new importance to the internal improvements and to the politics of the country. Who has not been stimulated to reflection by the facilities now in progress of construction for travel and the transportation of goods in the United States?

This rage for road building is beneficent for America, where vast distance is so main a consideration in our domestic politics and trade, inasmuch as the great political promise of the invention is to hold the Union staunch, whose days seemed already numbered by the mere inconvenience of transporting representatives, judges, and officers across such tedious distances of land and water. Not only is distance annihilated, but when, as now, the locomotive and the steamboat, like enormous shuttles, shoot every day across the thousand various threads of national descent and employment, and bind them fast in one web, an hourly assimilation goes forward, and there is no danger that local peculiarities and hostilities should be preserved.
1. But I hasten to speak of the utility of these improvements in creating an American sentiment. An unlooked for consequence of the railroad, is the increased acquaintance it has given the American people with the boundless resources of their own soil. If this invention has reduced England to a third of its size, by bringing people so much nearer, in this country it has given a new celerity to _time_, or anticipated by fifty years the planting of tracts of land, the choice of water privileges, the working of mines, and other natural advantages. Railroad iron is a magician's rod, in its power to evoke the sleeping energies of land and water.

The railroad is but one arrow in our quiver, though it has great value as a sort of yard-stick, and surveyor's line. The bountiful continent is ours, state on state, and territory on territory, to the waves of the Pacific sea;

"Our garden is the immeasurable earth, The heaven's blue pillars are Medea's house."

The task of surveying, planting, and building upon this immense tract, requires an education and a sentiment commensurate thereto. A consciousness of this fact, is beginning to take the place of the purely trading spirit and education which sprang up whilst all the population lived on the fringe of sea-coast. And even on the coast, prudent men have begun to see that every American should be educated with a view to the values of land. The arts of engineering and of architecture are studied; scientific agriculture is an object of growing attention; the mineral riches are explored; limestone, coal, slate, and iron; and the value of timber-lands is enhanced.

Columbus alleged as a reason for seeking a continent in the West, that the harmony of nature required a great tract of land in the western hemisphere, to balance the known extent of land in the eastern; and it now appears that we must estimate the native values of this broad region to redress the balance of our own judgments, and appreciate the advantages opened to the human race in this country, which is our fortunate home. The land is the appointed remedy for whatever is false and fantastic in our culture. The continent we inhabit is to be physic and food for our mind, as well as our body. The land, with its tranquilizing, sanative influences, is to repair the errors of a scholastic and traditional education, and bring us into just relations with men and things.

The habit of living in the presence of these invitations of natural wealth is not inoperative; and this habit, combined with the moral sentiment which, in the recent years, has interrogated every institution, usage, and law, has, naturally, given a strong direction to the wishes and aims of active young men to withdraw from cities, and cultivate the soil. This inclination has appeared in the most unlooked for quarters, in men supposed to be absorbed in business, and in those connected with the liberal professions. And, since the walks of trade were crowded, whilst that of agriculture cannot easily be, inasmuch as the farmer who is not wanted by others can yet grow his own bread, whilst the manufacturer or the trader, who is not wanted, cannot, -- this seemed a happy tendency. For, beside all the moral benefit which we may expect from the farmer's profession, when a man enters it considerately, this promised the conquering of the soil, plenty, and beyond this, the adorning of the country with every advantage and ornament which labor, ingenuity, and affection for a man's home, could suggest.

Meantime, with cheap land, and the pacific disposition of the people, every thing invites to the arts of agriculture, of gardening, and domestic architecture. Public gardens, on the scale of such plantations in Europe and Asia, are now unknown to us. There is no feature of the old countries that strikes an American with more agreeable surprise than the beautiful gardens of Europe; such as the Boboli in Florence, the Villa Borghese in Rome, the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, the gardens at Munich, and at Frankfort on the Maine: works easily imitated here, and which might well make the land dear to the citizen, and inflame patriotism. It is the fine art which is left for us, now that sculpture, painting, and religious and civil architecture have become effete, and have passed into second childhood. We have twenty degrees of latitude wherein to choose a seat, and the new modes of travelling enlarge the opportunity of selection, by making it easy to cultivate very distant tracts, and yet remain in strict intercourse with the centres of trade and population. And the whole force of all the arts goes to facilitate the decoration of lands and dwellings. A garden has this advantage, that it makes it indifferent where you live. A well-laid garden makes the face of the country of no account; let that be low or high, grand or mean, you have made a beautiful abode worthy of man. If the landscape is pleasing, the garden shows it, -- if tame, it excludes it. A little grove, which any farmer can find, or cause to grow near his house, will, in a few years, make cataracts and chains of mountains quite unnecessary to his scenery; and he is so contented with his alleys, woodlands, orchards, and river, that Niagara, and the Notch of the White Hills, and Nantasket Beach, are superfluities. And yet the selection of a fit houselot has the same advantage over an indifferent one, as the selection to a given employment of a man who has a genius for that work. In the last case, the culture of years will never make the most painstaking apprentice his equal: no more will gardening give the advantage of a happy site to a house in a hole or on a pinnacle. In America, we have hitherto little to boast in this kind. The cities drain the country of the best part of its population: the flower of the youth, of both sexes, goes into the towns, and the country is cultivated by a so much inferior class. The land, -- travel a whole day together, -- looks poverty-stricken, and the buildings plain and poor. In Europe, where society has an aristocratic structure, the land is full of men of the best stock, and the best culture, whose interest and pride it is to remain half the year on their estates, and to fill them with every convenience and ornament. Of course, these make model farms, and model architecture, and are a constant education to the eye of the surrounding population. Whatever events in progress shall go to disgust men with cities, and infuse into them the passion for country life, and country pleasures, will render a service to the whole face of this continent, and will further the most poetic of all the occupations of real life, the bringing out by art the native but hidden graces of the landscape.

I look on such improvements, also, as directly tending to endear the land to the inhabitant. Any relation to the land, the habit of tilling it, or mining it, or even hunting on it, generates the feeling of patriotism. He who keeps shop on it, or he who merely uses it as a support to his desk and ledger, or to his manufactory, values it less. The vast majority of the people of this country live by the land, and carry its quality in their manners and opinions. We in the Atlantic states, by position, have been commercial, and have, as I said, imbibed easily an European culture. Luckily for us, now that steam has narrowed the Atlantic to a strait, the nervous, rocky West is intruding a new and continental element into the national mind, and we shall yet have an American genius. How much better when the whole land is a garden, and the people have grown up in the bowers of a paradise. Without looking, then, to those extraordinary social influences which are now acting in precisely this direction, but only at what is inevitably doing around us, I think we must regard the _land_ as a commanding and increasing power on the citizen, the sanative and Americanizing influence, which promises to disclose new virtues for ages to come.

2. In the second place, the uprise and culmination of the new and anti-feudal power of Commerce, is the political fact of most significance to the American at this hour.

We cannot look on the freedom of this country, in connexion with its youth, without a presentiment that here shall laws and institutions exist on some scale of proportion to the majesty of nature. To men legislating for the area betwixt the two oceans, betwixt the snows and the tropics, somewhat of the gravity of nature will infuse itself into the code. A heterogeneous population crowding on all ships from all corners of the world to the great gates of North America, namely, Boston, New York, and New Orleans, and thence proceeding inward to the prairie and the mountains, and quickly contributing their private thought to the public opinion, their toll to the treasury, and their vote to the election, it cannot be doubted that the legislation of this country should become more catholic and cosmopolitan than that of any other. It seems so easy for America to inspire and express the most expansive and humane spirit; new-born, free, healthful, strong, the land of the laborer, of the democrat, of the philanthropist, of the believer, of the saint, she should speak for the human race. It is the country of the Future. From Washington, proverbially `the city of magnificent distances,' through all its cities, states, and territories, it is a country of beginnings, of projects, of designs, and expectations. Gentlemen, there is a sublime and friendly Destiny by which the human race is guided, -- the race never dying, the individual never spared, -- to results affecting masses and ages. Men are narrow and selfish, but the Genius or Destiny is not narrow, but beneficent. It is not discovered in their calculated and voluntary activity, but in what befalls, with or without their design. Only what is inevitable interests us, and it turns out that love and good are inevitable, and in the course of things. That Genius has infused itself into nature. It indicates itself by a small excess of good, a small balance in brute facts always favorable to the side of reason. All the facts in any part of nature shall be tabulated, and the results shall indicate the same security and benefit; so slight as to be hardly observable, and yet it is there. The sphere is flattened at the poles, and swelled at the equator; a form flowing necessarily from the fluid state, yet _the_ form, the mathematician assures us, required to prevent the protuberances of the continent, or even of lesser mountains cast up at any time by earthquakes, from continually deranging the axis of the earth. The census of the population is found to keep an invariable equality in the sexes, with a trifling predominance in favor of the male, as if to counterbalance the necessarily increased exposure of male life in war, navigation, and other accidents. Remark the unceasing effort throughout nature at somewhat better than the actual creatures: _amelioration in nature_, which alone permits and authorizes amelioration in mankind. The population of the world is a conditional population; these are not the best, but the best that could live in the existing state of soils, gases, animals, and morals: the best that could _yet_ live; there shall be a better, please God. This Genius, or Destiny, is of the sternest administration, though rumors exist of its secret tenderness. It may be styled a cruel kindness, serving the whole even to the ruin of the member; a terrible communist, reserving all profits to the community, without dividend to individuals. Its law is, you shall have everything as a member, nothing to yourself. For Nature is the noblest engineer, yet uses a grinding economy, working up all that is wasted to-day into to-morrow's creation; -- not a superfluous grain of sand, for all the ostentation she makes of expense and public works. It is because Nature thus saves and uses, laboring for the general, that we poor particulars are so crushed and straitened, and find it so hard to live. She flung us out in her plenty, but we cannot shed a hair, or a paring of a nail, but instantly she snatches at the shred, and appropriates it to the general stock. Our condition is like that of the poor wolves: if one of the flock wound himself, or so much as limp, the rest eat him up incontinently.

That serene Power interposes the check upon the caprices and officiousness of our wills. Its charity is not our charity. One of its agents is our will, but that which expresses itself in our will, is stronger than our will. We are very forward to help it, but it will not be accelerated. It resists our meddling, eleemosynary contrivances. We devise sumptuary and relief laws, but the principle of population is always reducing wages to the lowest pittance on which human life can be sustained. We legislate against forestalling and monopoly; we would have a common granary for the poor; but the selfishness which hoards the corn for high prices, is the preventive of famine; and the law of self-preservation is surer policy than any legislation can be. We concoct eleemosynary systems, and it turns out that our charity increases pauperism. We inflate our paper currency, we repair commerce with unlimited credit, and are presently visited with unlimited bankruptcy.

It is easy to see that the existing generation are conspiring with a beneficence, which, in its working for coming generations, sacrifices the passing one, which infatuates the most selfish men to act against their private interest for the public welfare. We build railroads, we know not for what or for whom; but one thing is certain, that we who build will receive the very smallest share of benefit. Benefit will accrue; they are essential to the country, but that will be felt not until we are no longer countrymen. We do the like in all matters: --"Man's heart the Almighty to the Future set By secret and inviolable springs."

We plant trees, we build stone houses, we redeem the waste, we make prospective laws, we found colleges and hospitals, for remote generations. We should be mortified to learn that the little benefit we chanced in our own persons to receive was the utmost they would yield.

The history of commerce, is the record of this beneficent tendency. The patriarchal form of government readily becomes despotic, as each person may see in his own family. Fathers wish to be the fathers of the minds of their children, and behold with impatience a new character and way of thinking presuming to show itself in their own son or daughter. This feeling, which all their love and pride in the powers of their children cannot subdue, becomes petulance and tyranny when the head of the clan, the emperor of an empire, deals with the same difference of opinion in his subjects. Difference of opinion is the one crime which kings never forgive. An empire is an immense egotism. "I am the State," said the French Louis. When a French ambassador mentioned to Paul of Russia, that a man of consequence in St. Petersburg was interesting himself in some matter, the Czar interrupted him, -- "There is no man of consequence in this empire, but he with whom I am actually speaking; and so long only as I am speaking to him, is he of any consequence." And Nicholas, the present emperor, is reported to have said to his council, "The age is embarrassed with new opinions; rely on me, gentlemen, I shall oppose an iron will to the progress of liberal opinions."

It is easy to see that this patriarchal or family management gets to be rather troublesome to all but the papa; the sceptre comes to be a crowbar. And this unpleasant egotism, Feudalism opposes, and finally destroys. The king is compelled to call in the aid of his brothers and cousins, and remote relations, to help him keep his overgrown house in order; and this club of noblemen always come at last to have a will of their own; they combine to brave the sovereign, and call in the aid of the people. Each chief attaches as many followers as he can, by kindness, maintenance, and gifts; and as long as war lasts, the nobles, who must be soldiers, rule very well. But when peace comes, the nobles prove very whimsical and uncomfortable masters; their frolics turn out to be insulting and degrading to the commoner. Feudalism grew to be a bandit and brigand.

Meantime Trade had begun to appear: Trade, a plant which grows wherever there is peace, as soon as there is peace, and as long as there is peace. The luxury and necessity of the noble fostered it. And as quickly as men go to foreign parts, in ships or caravans, a new order of things springs up; new command takes place, new servants and new masters. Their information, their wealth, their correspondence, have made them quite other men than left their native shore. _They_ are nobles now, and by another patent than the king's. Feudalism had been good, had broken the power of the kings, and had some good traits of its own; but it had grown mischievous, it was time for it to die, and, as they say of dying people, all its faults came out. Trade was the strong man that broke it down, and raised a new and unknown power in its place. It is a new agent in the world, and one of great function; it is a very intellectual force. This displaces physical strength, and instals computation, combination, information, science, in its room. It calls out all force of a certain kind that slumbered in the former dynasties. It is now in the midst of its career. Feudalism is not ended yet. Our governments still partake largely of that element. Trade goes to make the governments insignificant, and to bring every kind of faculty of every individual that can in any manner serve any person, _on sale_. Instead of a huge Army and Navy, and Executive Departments, it converts Government into an Intelligence-Office, where every man may find what he wishes to buy, and expose what he has to sell, not only produce and manufactures, but art, skill, and intellectual and moral values. This is the good and this the evil of trade, that it would put everything into market, talent, beauty, virtue, and man himself.

By this means, however, it has done its work. It has its faults, and will come to an end, as the others do. The philosopher and lover of man have much harm to say of trade; but the historian will see that trade was the principle of Liberty; that trade planted America and destroyed Feudalism; that it makes peace and keeps peace, and it will abolish slavery. We complain of its oppression of the poor, and of its building up a new aristocracy on the ruins of the aristocracy it destroyed. But the aristocracy of trade has no permanence, is not entailed, was the result of toil and talent, the result of merit of some kind, and is continually falling, like the waves of the sea, before new claims of the same sort. Trade is an instrument in the hands of that friendly Power which works for us in our own despite. We design it thus and thus; it turns out otherwise and far better. This beneficent tendency, omnipotent without violence, exists and works. Every line of history inspires a confidence that we shall not go far wrong; that things mend. That is the moral of all we learn, that it warrants Hope, the prolific mother of reforms. Our part is plainly not to throw ourselves across the track, to block improvement, and sit till we are stone, but to watch the uprise of successive mornings, and to conspire with the new works of new days. Government has been a fossil; it should be a plant. I conceive that the office of statute law should be to express, and not to impede the mind of mankind. New thoughts, new things. Trade was one instrument, but Trade is also but for a time, and must give way to somewhat broader and better, whose signs are already dawning in the sky.

3. I pass to speak of the signs of that which is the sequel of trade.

In consequence of the revolution in the state of society wrought by trade, Government in our times is beginning to wear a clumsy and cumbrous appearance. We have already seen our way to shorter methods. The time is full of good signs. Some of them shall ripen to fruit. All this beneficent socialism is a friendly omen, and the swelling cry of voices for the education of the people, indicates that Government has other offices than those of banker and executioner. Witness the new movements in the civilized world, the Communism of France, Germany, and Switzerland; the Trades' Unions; the English League against the Corn Laws; and the whole _Industrial Statistics_, so called. In Paris, the blouse, the badge of the operative, has begun to make its appearance in the saloons. Witness, too, the spectacle of three Communities which have within a very short time sprung up within this Commonwealth, besides several others undertaken by citizens of Massachusetts within the territory of other States. These proceeded from a variety of motives, from an impatience of many usages in common life, from a wish for greater freedom than the manners and opinions of society permitted, but in great part from a feeling that the true offices of the State, the State had let fall to the ground; that in the scramble of parties for the public purse, the main duties of government were omitted, -- the duty to instruct the ignorant, to supply the poor with work and with good guidance. These communists preferred the agricultural life as the most favorable condition for human culture; but they thought that the farm, as we manage it, did not satisfy the right ambition of man. The farmer after sacrificing pleasure, taste, freedom, thought, love, to his work, turns out often a bankrupt, like the merchant. This result might well seem astounding. All this drudgery, from cockcrowing to starlight, for all these years, to end in mortgages and the auctioneer's flag, and removing from bad to worse. It is time to have the thing looked into, and with a sifting criticism ascertained who is the fool. It seemed a great deal worse, because the farmer is living in the same town with men who pretend to know exactly what he wants. On one side, is agricultural chemistry, coolly exposing the nonsense of our spendthrift agriculture and ruinous expense of manures, and offering, by means of a teaspoonful of artificial guano, to turn a sandbank into corn; and, on the other, the farmer, not only eager for the information, but with bad crops and in debt and bankruptcy, for want of it. Here are Etzlers and mechanical projectors, who, with the Fourierists, undoubtingly affirm that the smallest union would make every man rich; -- and, on the other side, a multitude of poor men and women seeking work, and who cannot find enough to pay their board. The science is confident, and surely the poverty is real. If any means could be found to bring these two together!

This was one design of the projectors of the Associations which are now making their first feeble experiments. They were founded in love, and in labor. They proposed, as you know, that all men should take a part in the manual toil, and proposed to amend the condition of men, by substituting harmonious for hostile industry. It was a noble thought of Fourier, which gives a favorable idea of his system, to distinguish in his Phalanx a class as the Sacred Band, by whom whatever duties were disagreeable, and likely to be omitted, were to be assumed.

At least, an economical success seemed certain for the enterprise, and that agricultural association must, sooner or later, fix the price of bread, and drive single farmers into association, in self-defence; as the great commercial and manufacturing companies had already done. The Community is only the continuation of the same movement which made the joint-stock companies for manufactures, mining, insurance, banking, and so forth. It has turned out cheaper to make calico by companies; and it is proposed to plant corn, and to bake bread by companies.

Undoubtedly, abundant mistakes will be made by these first adventurers, which will draw ridicule on their schemes. I think, for example, that they exaggerate the importance of a favorite project of theirs, that of paying talent and labor at one rate, paying all sorts of service at one rate, say ten cents the hour. They have paid it so; but not an instant would a dime remain a dime. In one hand it became an eagle as it fell, and in another hand a copper cent. For the whole value of the dime is in knowing what to do with it. One man buys with it a land-title of an Indian, and makes his posterity princes; or buys corn enough to feed the world; or pen, ink, and paper, or a painter's brush, by which he can communicate himself to the human race as if he were fire; and the other buys barley candy. Money is of no value; it cannot spend itself. All depends on the skill of the spender. Whether, too, the objection almost universally felt by such women in the community as were mothers, to an associate life, to a common table, and a common nursery, &c., setting a higher value on the private family with poverty, than on an association with wealth, will not prove insuperable, remains to be determined.

But the Communities aimed at a higher success in securing to all their members an equal and thorough education. And on the whole, one may say, that aims so generous, and so forced on them by the times, will not be relinquished, even if these attempts fail, but will be prosecuted until they succeed.

This is the value of the Communities; not what they have done, but the revolution which they indicate as on the way. Yes, Government must educate the poor man. Look across the country from any hill-side around us, and the landscape seems to crave Government. The actual differences of men must be acknowledged, and met with love and wisdom. These rising grounds which command the champaign below, seem to ask for lords, true lords, _land_-lords, who understand the land and its uses, and the applicabilities of men, and whose government would be what it should, namely, mediation between want and supply. How gladly would each citizen pay a commission for the support and continuation of good guidance. None should be a governor who has not a talent for governing. Now many people have a native skill for carving out business for many hands; a genius for the disposition of affairs; and are never happier than when difficult practical questions, which embarrass other men, are to be solved. All lies in light before them; they are in their element. Could any means be contrived to appoint only these! There really seems a progress towards such a state of things, in which this work shall be done by these natural workmen; and this, not certainly through any increased discretion shown by the citizens at elections, but by the gradual contempt into which official government falls, and the increasing disposition of private adventurers to assume its fallen functions. Thus the costly Post Office is likely to go into disuse before the private transportation-shop of Harnden and his competitors. The currency threatens to fall entirely into private hands. Justice is continually administered more and more by private reference, and not by litigation. We have feudal governments in a commercial age. It would be but an easy extension of our commercial system, to pay a private emperor a fee for services, as we pay an architect, an engineer, or a lawyer. If any man has a talent for righting wrong, for administering difficult affairs, for counselling poor farmers how to turn their estates to good husbandry, for combining a hundred private enterprises to a general benefit, let him in the county-town, or in Court-street, put up his sign-board, Mr. Smith, _Governor_, Mr. Johnson, _Working king_.

How can our young men complain of the poverty of things in New England, and not feel that poverty as a demand on their charity to make New England rich? Where is he who seeing a thousand men useless and unhappy, and making the whole region forlorn by their inaction, and conscious himself of possessing the faculty they want, does not hear his call to go and be their king?

We must have kings, and we must have nobles. Nature provides such in every society, -- only let us have the real instead of the titular. Let us have our leading and our inspiration from the best. In every society some men are born to rule, and some to advise. Let the powers be well directed, directed by love, and they would everywhere be greeted with joy and honor. The chief is the chief all the world over, only not his cap and his plume. It is only their dislike of the pretender, which makes men sometimes unjust to the accomplished man. If society were transparent, the noble would everywhere be gladly received and accredited, and would not be asked for his day's work, but would be felt as benefit, inasmuch as he was noble. That were his duty and stint, -- to keep himself pure and purifying, the leaven of his nation. I think I see place and duties for a nobleman in every society; but it is not to drink wine and ride in a fine coach, but to guide and adorn life for the multitude by forethought, by elegant studies, by perseverance, self-devotion, and the remembrance of the humble old friend, by making his life secretly beautiful.

I call upon you, young men, to obey your heart, and be the nobility of this land. In every age of the world, there has been a leading nation, one of a more generous sentiment, whose eminent citizens were willing to stand for the interests of general justice and humanity, at the risk of being called, by the men of the moment, chimerical and fantastic. Which should be that nation but these States? Which should lead that movement, if not New England? Who should lead the leaders, but the Young American? The people, and the world, is now suffering from the want of religion and honor in its public mind. In America, out of doors all seems a market; in doors, an air-tight stove of conventionalism. Every body who comes into our houses savors of these habits; the men, of the market; the women, of the custom. I find no expression in our state papers or legislative debate, in our lyceums or churches, specially in our newspapers, of a high national feeling, no lofty counsels that rightfully stir the blood. I speak of those organs which can be presumed to speak a popular sense. They recommend conventional virtues, whatever will earn and preserve property; always the capitalist; the college, the church, the hospital, the theatre, the hotel, the road, the ship, of the capitalist, -- whatever goes to secure, adorn, enlarge these, is good; what jeopardizes any of these, is damnable. The `opposition' papers, so called, are on the same side. They attack the great capitalist, but with the aim to make a capitalist of the poor man. The opposition is against those who have money, from those who wish to have money. But who announces to us in journal, or in pulpit, or in the street, the secret of heroism,

"Man alone Can perform the impossible?"

I shall not need to go into an enumeration of our national defects and vices which require this Order of Censors in the state. I might not set down our most proclaimed offences as the worst. It is not often the worst trait that occasions the loudest outcry. Men complain of their suffering, and not of the crime. I fear little from the bad effect of Repudiation; I do not fear that it will spread. Stealing is a suicidal business; you cannot repudiate but once. But the bold face and tardy repentance permitted to this local mischief, reveal a public mind so preoccupied with the love of gain, that the common sentiment of indignation at fraud does not act with its natural force. The more need of a withdrawal from the crowd, and a resort to the fountain of right, by the brave. The timidity of our public opinion, is our disease, or, shall I say, the publicness of opinion, the absence of private opinion. Good-nature is plentiful, but we want justice, with heart of steel, to fight down the proud. The private mind has the access to the totality of goodness and truth, that it may be a balance to a corrupt society; and to stand for the private verdict against popular clamor, is the office of the noble. If a humane measure is propounded in behalf of the slave, or of the Irishman, or the Catholic, or for the succor of the poor, that sentiment, that project, will have the homage of the hero. That is his nobility, his oath of knighthood, to succor the helpless and oppressed; always to throw himself on the side of weakness, of youth, of hope, on the liberal, on the expansive side, never on the defensive, the conserving, the timorous, the lock and bolt system. More than our good-will we may not be able to give. We have our own affairs, our own genius, which chains us to our proper work. We cannot give our life to the cause of the debtor, of the slave, or the pauper, as another is doing; but to one thing we are bound, not to blaspheme the sentiment and the work of that man, not to throw stumbling-blocks in the way of the abolitionist, the philanthropist, as the organs of influence and opinion are swift to do. It is for us to confide in the beneficent Supreme Power, and not to rely on our money, and on the state because it is the guard of money. At this moment, the terror of old people and of vicious people, is lest the Union of these States be destroyed: as if the Union had any other real basis than the good pleasure of a majority of the citizens to be united. But the wise and just man will always feel that he stands on his own feet; that he imparts strength to the state, not receives security from it; and that if all went down, he and such as he would quite easily combine in a new and better constitution. Every great and memorable community has consisted of formidable individuals, who, like the Roman or the Spartan, lent his own spirit to the state and made it great. Yet only by the supernatural is a man strong; nothing is so weak as an egotist. Nothing is mightier than we, when we are vehicles of a truth before which the state and the individual are alike ephemeral.

Gentlemen, the development of our American internal resources, the extension to the utmost of the commercial system, and the appearance of new moral causes which are to modify the state, are giving an aspect of greatness to the Future, which the imagination fears to open. One thing is plain for all men of common sense and common conscience, that here, here in America, is the home of man. After all the deductions which are to be made for our pitiful politics, which stake every gravest national question on the silly die, whether James or whether Jonathan shall sit in the chair and hold the purse; after all the deduction is made for our frivolities and insanities, there still remains an organic simplicity and liberty, which, when it loses its balance, redresses itself presently, which offers opportunity to the human mind not known in any other region.

It is true, the public mind wants self-respect. We are full of vanity, of which the most signal proof is our sensitiveness to foreign and especially English censure. One cause of this is our immense reading, and that reading chiefly confined to the productions of the English press. It is also true, that, to imaginative persons in this country, there is somewhat bare and bald in our short history, and unsettled wilderness. They ask, who would live in a new country, that can live in an old? and it is not strange that our youths and maidens should burn to see the picturesque extremes of an antiquated country. But it is one thing to visit the pyramids, and another to wish to live there. Would they like tithes to the clergy, and sevenths to the government, and horse-guards, and licensed press, and grief when a child is born, and threatening, starved weavers, and a pauperism now constituting one-thirteenth of the population? Instead of the open future expanding here before the eye of every boy to vastness, would they like the closing in of the future to a narrow slit of sky, and that fast contracting to be no future? One thing, for instance, the beauties of aristocracy, we commend to the study of the travelling American. The English, the most conservative people this side of India, are not sensible of the restraint, but an American would seriously resent it. The aristocracy, incorporated by law and education, degrades life for the unprivileged classes. It is a questionable compensation to the embittered feeling of a proud commoner, the reflection that a fop, who, by the magic of title, paralyzes his arm, and plucks from him half the graces and rights of a man, is himself also an aspirant excluded with the same ruthlessness from higher circles, since there is no end to the wheels within wheels of this spiral heaven. Something may be pardoned to the spirit of loyalty when it becomes fantastic; and something to the imagination, for the baldest life is symbolic. Philip II. of Spain rated his ambassador for neglecting serious affairs in Italy, whilst he debated some point of honor with the French ambassador; "You have left a business of importance for a ceremony." The ambassador replied, "Your majesty's self is but a ceremony." In the East, where the religious sentiment comes in to the support of the aristocracy, and in the Romish church also, there is a grain of sweetness in the tyranny; but in England, the fact seems to me intolerable, what is commonly affirmed, that such is the transcendent honor accorded to wealth and birth, that no man of letters, be his eminence what it may, is received into the best society, except as a lion and a show. The English have many virtues, many advantages, and the proudest history of the world; but they need all, and more than all the resources of the past to indemnify a heroic gentleman in that country for the mortifications prepared for him by the system of society, and which seem to impose the alternative to resist or to avoid it. That there are mitigations and practical alleviations to this rigor, is not an excuse for the rule. Commanding worth, and personal power, must sit crowned in all companies, nor will extraordinary persons be slighted or affronted in any company of civilized men. But the system is an invasion of the sentiment of justice and the native rights of men, which, however decorated, must lessen the value of English citizenship. It is for Englishmen to consider, not for us; we only say, let us live in America, too thankful for our want of feudal institutions. Our houses and towns are like mosses and lichens, so slight and new; but youth is a fault of which we shall daily mend. This land, too, is as old as the Flood, and wants no ornament or privilege which nature could bestow. Here stars, here woods, here hills, here animals, here men abound, and the vast tendencies concur of a new order. If only the men are employed in conspiring with the designs of the Spirit who led us hither, and is leading us still, we shall quickly enough advance out of all hearing of other's censures, out of all regrets of our own, into a new and more excellent social state than history has recorded.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

John Hagel on Passion and Wisdom.

We have another excellent article written by John Hagel on the dynamic interaction between passion and wisdom. How these elements interactions increase organizational performance beyond what either can deliver in isolation. Hagel notes.

I want to challenge this belief.  In fact, passion and wisdom amplify each other – each one alone has far less impact than when the two are combined. Rather than opposites, these two are powerful complements.
It is my opinion, that the oil and gas industry has no passion; and is operated completely from the basis of wisdom. For that statement I would probably receive little argument and be perceived to not have insulted anyone. And I have not intentionally set out to insult anyone, its that the need to have a level of passion within the industry is something that is necessary, and that is what I and Hagel are arguing.
Wisdom in isolation falls prey to diminishing returns.  No matter how thoughtful and creative we might be, we ultimately run up against the limits of current capability.  The longer we work at it, the harder it becomes to find the next increment of value within current performance limits.
Today we have an economy that is in a major transition, that is redefining the players in all industries and in all marketplaces. We also have a set of technologies, the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) redefining how business is conducted throughout all industries. These transition are also defining how the oil and gas industry is being conducted in fundamental ways.
In a world of mounting performance pressure where current limits become prisons that ultimately crush participants,effectively integrating wisdom and passion is not just an opportunity, it is an imperative.
From my perspective little to no passion exists in the oil and gas industry. The wisdom that Hagel notes that can imprison organizations appears to have asphyxiated oil and gas firms with an overdose of paper. Over the past decade firms have been rewarded with higher commodity prices. However at the same time costs have escalated at substantially the same or even higher factors. Since 2005 world oil production has stalled with no substantial increases seen in any region, and no increases seen in the foreseeable future. Regions such as Canada, and others, are seeing steep declines in their natural gas deliverability. The industry is ripe with wisdom and lacking in passion at a time when the challenges are the greatest the industry has ever faced. If only the industry were to adopt the Draft Specification and commence the development of the People, Ideas & Objects software applications. Passion could begin to be effectively integrated with the wisdom resident in the industry, and affect the performance of the industry in the manner that Hagel notes in this article.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Free Riders and the Participation Bonus.

Free riders have been defined in wikipedia as

In economics, collective bargaining, psychology, and political science, "free riders" are those who consume more than their fair share of a public resource, or shoulder less than a fair share of the costs of its production. Free riding is usually considered to be an economic "problem" only when it leads to the non-production or under-production of a public good (and thus to Pareto inefficiency), or when it leads to the excessive use of a common property resource. The free rider problem is the question of how to limit free riding (or its negative effects) in these situations.
For the purpose of People, Ideas & Objects “free riders” is a serious problem that we have chosen to deal with in our Revenue Model. Simply our free rider problem is that many producer firms would feel their best approach to supporting People, Ideas & Objects would be to abstain from actively participating, particularly financially, and leave the burden to other producers to carry the weight of building the application without their direct participation. Applications such as People, Ideas & Objects can not be built with that method of participation.

The manner in which we solve this free rider problem is by assessing a late fee of 300% on top of our annual subscription fee. The annual subscription fees are due and payable on January 1 of the current year and need to be paid in full prior to the participation in the communities or prospective use of any software. Late fees are assessed on any outstanding annual subscription fees as of March 31, of the calendar year in which the fees were assessed. 2010 subscription fees were assessed at $1.00. 2011 subscription fees will also be assessed at $1.00. All fees, subscription and late, for all years, 2010 forward are to be paid before participation in communities can commence or prospectively use any software. Fees are assessed on the producers annual barrel of oil per equivalent production. (Eg. a producer currently producing 1 million boe / day would owe $1 million 2010 subscription fees and $3 million late fees, and $1 million 2011 subscription fees.)

The participation bonus is related to the late fee in that as firms that may have chosen to wait or hold back their participation in developing People, Ideas & Objects applications. That may have subsequently decide to join the development or begin using the application. Are then required to pay the subscription and late fees back to 2010 to the current date. As these lump sum payments are received by People, Ideas & Objects they offset the current years budgetary revenue requirements of the firm, therefore reducing the current years budget subscription fee value and therefore reducing those subscribing producers annual subscription fees for the subsequent subscription year. That’s the participation bonus.

It’s necessary that a project such as this deals with the free rider problem and at the same time reward those producers that participate early. For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Professor Giovanni Dosi, Part XIV

As technical paradigms are introduced companies accept and use these innovative capabilities at different rates. This rate of acceptance can be classified as early innovators, imitators and fence sitters. Thus a satisfactory understanding of the relationship between innovation and distribution of firms structural and performance characteristics also implies an analysis of the learning and competitive process through which an industry changes.

We have also seen over the past twenty years an interesting trend that has created significant differences in the stratification of the oil and gas industry in terms of the size of the producer and their associated innovativeness. The small organization was able to purchase reserves and facilities from the open market, or their previous owners, only to substantially increase the inherent value through increased production and / or performance. We can conclude that the bureaucracy inherent in the hierarchy had stifled the innovativeness in the larger organizations and most disturbing is the lack of concern or identification of this as an issue over the past number of decades.

Professor Dosi notes;

Finally, empirical studies often show the coexistence, within the same industry and for identical environmental incentives, of widely different strategies related to innovation, pricing, R & D, investment and so on. Specifically with regard to innovation one notices a range of strategies concerning whether or not to undertake R & D; being an inventor or an early imitator, or “wait and see”; the amount of investment in R & D; the choice between “incremental; and risky projects, and so on (see Charles Carter and Bruce Williams 1957; Freeman 1982 and the bibliography cited therein). Call these differences behavioral diversity. p. 1157
Changing the innovative behaviour of one producer carries a scope of change that is as broad and as diverse as is contemplated in the business world. Change at this scale in many instances can not be managed within the organization but needs to be managed through the forces of creative destruction in the greater economy. A time of dynamic change driven by the organizational changes focused around the innovative Joint Operating Committee.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Professor Giovanni Dosi, Part XIII

Professor Giovanni Dosi notes that most of the innovation occurring during the industrial revolution had been via the “technical trajectories of increasing mechanization of production and increasing exploitation of economies of scale.” However, these innovations have been on the basis of the "trade-offs between volume of production and flexibility of the production lines."

Robotics has had a tremendous impact on the makeup and mix of production runs and flexibility, the efficiency of small production runs, and the likely increase in the importance of plant related economies of scale.

Therefore it is concluded by Dosi that the increased flexibility afforded by robotics and automation, motivated primarily through the more speculative nature of demand prediction, has had the effect of decreasing the productivity effect of additional innovations. Ultimately, however, the expectation of the innovations effect is that it will move the costs lower over the smaller production volumes. We are now clearly seeing this in the innovation and diversity of offerings in the vehicle industry. (Greater costs being allocated over smaller production runs.)

In oil and gas we see what might be considered a parallel situation. The business cycle is more dependent on the reserve life of new reserves. With rapid three-year declines, specifically in gas, the question becomes: is this a product of the cumulative innovativeness in exploiting the technologies that have developed? Or, is the use and application of oil and gas technology yet to be tested against a more exploration style mindset consistent with the risk - reward of the current market pricing of the commodities.

Either way it appears that the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas reserves has and always will be a function of the technology based on the underlying sciences. This is undeniable, and may also be the cause of the shorter-term life cycle and diminished size of new reserves, which is agreed by most to be a trend that will continue. This reserve size and deliver-ability is paralleled in Dosi’s discussion of how innovations in industrial companies have been diluted by demand prediction and lower production volumes. Scientific and engineering innovations accelerating the extraction of oil and gas reserves and this trend continuing for the foreseeable future.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Professor Giovanni Dosi, Part XII

We return to our review of Professor Giovanni Dosi’s “Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation”. Earlier we noted that the Joint Operating Committee (JOC) is the ideal or key organizational construct for innovation. There an innovation framework operates in alignment with the legal, financial, operational decision making, cultural and communication frameworks of the Joint Operating Committee. And if we moved the compliance and governance frameworks from the hierarchy into alignment with the six frameworks of the JOC, as People, Ideas & Objects suggests in the Draft Specification, we would achieve a greater speed, accountability and ‘innovativeness’ in the business of the oil and gas producer.

Professor Dosi discusses the phenomenon introduced earlier in our review when he asks, “are the observed inter-sectoral differences in innovative investment the outcome of different incentive structures, different opportunities, or both?”, and now considers the relationship between innovative activities and the dynamics of industrial structures and performance. Why do some companies attain greater value from Innovation?

Professor Dosi (1988) reference to the Schumpeterian hypothesis, “that bigness is relatively more conducive to innovation, that concentration and market power affect the propensity to innovate” and his rejection of that premise is evident in this paper’s following three points.

  • First, although “there appears to be roughly a log linear relation within industries between firm size and R & D expenditures”, upon closer investigation, “estimates show roughly non-decreasing return of innovative process to firm size.” This is probably attributable to the fact that very large and very small firms conduct most R & D. p. 1151
  • Second, although the expenditures in R & D incurred by large firms are impressive from a total expenditure perspective, the aggregate expenditures of small firms on a global basis becomes far greater in aggregate than the large business. p. 1151
  • Third, money is not necessarily a good indicator of innovativeness. Large variances within industries can clearly be identified irrespective of firm size. p. 1152

Therefore “bigness” is not necessarily an element that enhances innovation. This might be intuitively understood by the small oil and gas producers ability to punch above their weight.

Dosi (1988) provides three caveats to the three differences noted.

  • “Statistical proxies cannot capture aspects of technical change based on informal learning” p. 1152
  • Secondly, “differences in businesses and business lines (and business or product life cycles) may provide discrepancies in comparison of “like” firms. p. 1152
  • Thirdly, many firms are expending significant research dollars in keeping up with other firms innovations.  p. 1152
Or in summary, money is not necessarily a determinant of innovative success.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oracle Changes the Game

Last week we saw a game changing decision in the Oracle vs. SAP court case in California. A court decision in which Copyright and Intellectual Property are upheld as the key to the software business.

People, Ideas & Objects has been based on the Copyright and Intellectual Property of the Preliminary Research report of using the Joint Operating Committee as the key organizational construct of the innovative oil and gas producer. This original idea has been developed further in this blog and applied in the development of the Draft Specification. Intellectual property that is original, pristine and designed to solve the issues that exist in the oil and gas industry.

Customers of software vendors need to have their software applications with this level of Intellectual Property and Copyright pedigree. I am pleased to be able to provide our potential oil and gas customers with this high level of assurance of Intellectual Property.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

McKinsey, Global Forces Shaping Business and Society

Once again McKinsey have impressed with a thorough summary of the situation in the global economy. This video presentation is very high level and only touches on individual points. However provides an overall summary and captures a spirit of the global economy and its future direction. To me these McKinsey partners are discussing the future economy and the ways and means of how and what of how people will earn there way in the world.

A fascinating and well presented discussion I highly recommend bookmarking the video.

Monday, November 15, 2010

McKinsey on Creating Value

In a world where Cash-for-Clunkers and QE II are considered solutions to what ails our economy. It is refreshing to see this presentation by McKinsey Consulting. This presentation is talking about the ways that value is created and destroyed in firms. Although the video at times seems to stumble, it is only in the presentation of difficult material that makes it appear that way. What is being discussed are advanced concepts that need to be adopted by innovative oil and gas producers.

McKinsey identifies four of the mechanisms that generate and destroy value in business. In the Preliminary Research Report it was noted that focusing on growth as a strategy may not generate the value that a producer firm needs. That innovation is a strategy to optimize the value of the producer firm is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects.

In a related paper, McKinsey relates the difficulty for firms to focus on value generation.

It’s one thing for a CFO to understand the technical methods of valuation—and for members of the finance organization to apply them to help line managers monitor and improve company performance. But it’s still more powerful when CEOs, board members, and other non-financial executives internalize the principles of value creation. Doing so allows them to make independent, courageous, and even unpopular business decisions in the face of myths and misconceptions about what creates value.
The Draft Specification provides two modules that make these calculations and enable these decisions to be made, the Performance Evaluation, and Analytics & Statistics modules. These two modules functionality are very similar. The key difference is that the Performance Evaluation module deals with the producer firm and the Analytics & Statistics module views data from the Joint Operating Committee perspective.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

McKinsey on Centered Leadership

Today we continue on with the topic of leadership with review of two papers from McKinsey (here and here) that look into a research term they call Centered Leadership. Recently we had the opportunity to review an article from John Hagel and John Seely Brown on the need to develop leaders, and we noted how leadership is a skill that can’t be automated by computers. We’ll start with a quick review of the five elements of McKinsey’s centered leadership and then look at each element closer.

Over the past six years, McKinsey has developed a map of capabilities we call centered leadership. This concept has five dimensions: meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of a purpose that inspires you; positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world and convert even difficult situations into opportunities; connecting, or building a stronger sense of community and belonging; engaging, or pursuing opportunities disguised by risk; and energizing, or practicing ways to sustain your energy on a long leadership journey.
Applying these dimensions to the prospective users and Community of Independent Service Providers provides the following.


People, Ideas & Objects is focused on providing the innovative oil and gas producer with the systems needed to identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Through this revolutionary change, the industry will be able to better manage their operations. We have also asserted that through use of People, Ideas & Objects software and the Community of Independent Service Providers (CISP), we are able to provide the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. This is our competitive advantage and the we derive meaning from these facts. (Most profitable operations are attained through the lowest cost ERP system, and the software identifying and supporting enhanced divisions of labor and specialization.)
Time and again, we heard that sharing meaning to inspire colleagues requires leaders to become great storytellers, touching hearts as well as minds. These skills are particularly applicable for executives leading through major transitions, since it takes strong personal motivation to triumph over the discomfort and fear that accompany change and that can drown out formal corporate messages, which in any event rarely fire the souls of employees and inspire greater achievement.

People, Ideas & Objects sees the world optimistically. We live in times where intellectual leverage is being offered and made possible by advanced Information Technology. Setting us on a revolution that is equivalent to what we realized through mechanical leverage in the industrial revolution.
Positive psychologists have shown that some people tend to frame the world optimistically, others pessimistically. Optimists often have an edge: in our survey, three-quarters of the respondents who were particularly good at positive framing thought they had the right skills to lead change, while only 15 percent of those who weren’t thought so.

To continue on with the theme of revolution, communications are cutting through the bureaucracies enabling us to connect to like minded individuals. People, Ideas & Objects software developments provide users and members of the Community of Independent Service Providers with the opportunity to leverage their connections into the commercial realm.
With communications traveling at warp speed, simple hierarchical cascades—from the CEO down until the chain breaks—are becoming less and less effective for leaders. For starters, leaders depend increasingly on their ability to manage complex webs of connections that aren’t suited to traditional, linear communication styles. Further, leaders can find the volume of communication in such networks overwhelming. While this environment can be challenging, it also allows more people to contribute, generating not only wisdom and a wealth of ideas but also immeasurable commitment.
Of survey respondents who indicated they were poor at engaging—with risk, with fear, and even with opportunity—only 13 percent thought they had the skills to lead change. That’s hardly surprising: risk aversion and fear run rampant during times of change. Leaders who are good at acknowledging and countering these emotions can help their people summon the courage to act and thus unleash tremendous potential.
An element of engaging is how People, Ideas & Objects doesn’t take the time and effort of individuals without understanding the risks and fears they may have. Therefore, the ability to move forward with this project demands that the financial resources be in place before anyone is asked to contribute. People, Ideas & Objects will not ask anyone to incur either monetary or career risks from being involved in this project.

Managing Energy

McKinsey notes:
Sustaining change requires the enthusiasm and commitment of large numbers of people across an organization for an extended period of time. All too often, though, a change effort starts with a big bang of vision statements and detailed initiatives, only to see energy peter out. The opposite, when work escalates maniacally through a culture of “relentless enthusiasm,” is equally problematic. Either way, leaders will find it hard to sustain energy and commitment within the organization unless they systemically restore their own energy (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), as well as create the conditions and serve as role models for others to do the same. Our research suggests sustaining and restoring energy is something leaders often skimp on.
Sustaining the energy for this project is something that I consider to be an important part of what I do. For the past five years in which we have been writing about using the Joint Operating Committee as the key organizational construct of the innovative oil and gas producer. We have been able to define the Draft Specification and carry this vision and strategy through some difficult periods. Keeping our “powder dry and our candle lit” for the day in which we begin the development of these systems. This process will continue until such time as the producers learn that their existing ways and means of operation are no longer able to generate value. When producers begin to lose money, we’ll know that our day is close at hand.
Moreover, this survey underscores the impact when leaders embrace not just one or two but all five dimensions of centered leadership. As our 2009 survey also suggested, finding meaning in one’s activities has the strongest impact on general satisfaction with one’s life, but the more dimensions that respondents say they have mastered, the more likely they are to rate themselves highly satisfied with their performance as leaders and with their lives generally.
For this project to succeed leadership from all areas will be needed. As automation of business processes continues and accelerates, skills such as leadership will increase in the day to day activities of most people. Looking ahead what does McKinsey recommend from their research in centered leadership?

  • Centered leadership equips leaders for leading change. Among leaders who have mastered all five dimensions of centered leadership, 92 percent say they have the skills to lead through times of major change (versus 21 percent for those yet to master them). Since most executives are living through particularly turbulent economic times, a focus on centered leadership could benefit leaders significantly.
  • Big organizations can learn from small ones. Across the board, executives at smaller organizations say they have mastered more dimensions of centered leadership and feel better about their work performance and overall satisfaction. These results suggest that larger organizations have much to learn from small ones on how to attract, motivate, and inspire their employees.
  • Future leaders are most at risk. We have long believed that mastering centered leadership is most important for younger women and men who desire to lead, a belief these numbers underscore. The youngest respondents report the lowest scores in all dimensions except connecting. Given the correlation between higher scores and good outcomes, such as leadership effectiveness and general satisfaction, companies would benefit from undertaking the cultural transformation that centered leadership augurs.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Professor Giovanni Dosi, Part XI

Our review of the Preliminary Research Report, Professor Dosi’s paper “Sources, Procedures and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation” and the Draft Specification is providing evidence to answer two of our research questions. I think it is becoming clear that innovation can be the result, as our first research question asks, of a quantifiable and replicable process. What also is becoming clear is the lack of the processes that facilitate innovation, will most certainly lead to a lack of innovation. That to leave the process of innovation to chance is irresponsible, reckless and bound to fail.

The second research question we are seeing the answer to; is the Joint Operating Committee is the optimal organizational construct to identify and support innovation. Building the systems that support the legal, financial, operational decision making, cultural and communication frameworks of the JOC is our focus. However, what I am realizing is that innovation is also a framework of the JOC. That is to say we should be stating that the Joint Operating Committee is the legal, financial, operational decision making, cultural, communication and innovation framework of all producers. As a result of this realization I have changed the header to this blog to reflect this change.

Continuing with our review of Professor Dosi’s paper, he begins by summarizing that businesses commit to innovation stemming from exogenous scientific factors and endogenously accumulated capabilities developed by their respective firms. His general point is that “observed sectoral patterns of technical change are the result of the interplay between various sorts of market-inducements, on the one hand, and opportunity and appropriability combinations, on the other”. p. 1141

What opportunities are and will be constrained by not adopting a more innovative organizational structure? If the geological and engineering sciences progress in a substantial manner in the next few years, how will oil and gas companies adopt, employ, test, and prove these science's development without an enhanced capacity to innovate? How much of the drive towards innovation is the beginning of the understanding necessary to expand the science? How much of an inducement are the current commodity prices providing the global competition to innovate? Until producers capture these “appropriabilities” within their ERP systems, such as the Draft Specification does, innovation will be left to chance.

I am not asserting that efforts in the past were not innovative or moved the science substantially. The issue People, Ideas & Objects is raising is that the pace and speed of the science’s development in the near to mid-term, and particularly the long term, will accelerate based on the fact that, globally, reserve replacement continues to be progressively more challenging, and the prices realized for the commodities have begun to reflect these challenges. Professor Dosi (1988) concludes this section with “Finally, the evolution of the economic environment in the longer term, is instrumental in the selection of new technological paradigms, and, thus in the long term selection of the fundamental directions and procedures of innovative search.” p. 1142

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Professor Giovanni Dosi, Part X

In our review of Professor Giovanni Dosi’s paper, “Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation“ we now ask what are the incentives to invest in the discovery of innovations and there development? Will these depend on the incentives that interested and motivated agents perceive in terms of expected economic returns? Professor Dosi calls “appropriability those properties of technological knowledge and technical artifacts, of markets and the legal environment that permit innovations as rent yielding assets against competitor’s imitation”.

Professor Dosi (1988) notes a study conducted by Richard Levin et al 1984, in which they studied “the varying empirical significance of appropriability devices of (a) patents, (b) secrecy, (c) lead times, (d) costs and time required for duplication, (e) learning curve effects, (f) superior sales and service efforts.” Professor Dosi (1988) observed, “that lead times and learning cures are relatively more effective ways of protecting process innovations, and patents a more effective way to protect product innovations.” Dosi concludes. “Finally, there appears to be quite significant inter-industrial variance in the importance of the various ways of protecting innovations and in the overall degrees of appropriability”. (p. 1139)

Oil and gas producers are focused on process innovations, industry suppliers on product innovations. Recognizing this division of labor is how People, Ideas & Objects Resource Marketplace module provides and facilitates a greater interaction between producers and suppliers. Each group is concerned with securing their innovative capabilities without creating any conflict with the other. (The producer looking to lead times, learning curves while suppliers using patents to protect their innovations and capabilities.)

Levin states that the control of complementary technologies becomes a “rent-earning firm-specific asset”. Professor Dosi (1988) states “in general, it must be noticed that the partly tacit nature of innovative knowledge and its characteristics of partial private appropriability makes imitation a creative process, which involves search, which is not wholly distinct from the search for new development, and which is economically expensive - sometimes even more expensive then the original innovation, and applies to both patented and non-patented innovations.” (p. 1140)

With the fast changing science and technological paradigms and steep trajectories of the industry, the need to have the capability to innovate will be needed for each producer to develop on their own. If the costs of duplication are as steep as the costs of developing the internal capabilities, the producers should then rely on their process innovations to carry their firm. However, that also imputes that a greater level of co-dependency exists. Partners in the Joint Operating Committee will have resources available to commit to the projects and suppliers will have contributions as well. As the Resource Marketplace module seeks to eliminate the redundant and mutually exclusive capabilities being built within each silo’d corporation. The proposed alternative in the Draft Specification is to rely on the marketplace for development and deployment of these innovations.

To restate this another way. With the dual constraints of; the difficulty in increasing the volume of earth science and engineering resources in a material way, and secondly, the demand for greater volumes of science and engineering in each barrel of oil, the need for the producer to rely on the “market” (within the Resource Marketplace module) to define and support their innovative appropriability is a necessity. A means to effectively pool and manage the technical resources made available through the participants in the Joint Operating Committee and service industries, as contemplated in the Resource Marketplace module and Military Command & Control Metaphor.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hagel & Brown on Leadership

John Hagel and John Seeley Brown are two authors that we follow closely here at People, Ideas & Objects. In a Forbes article entitled “Today You Can Only be a Leader by Creating Leaders” they bring up the topic of leadership and how it’s changing.

In a world where automation of transactions and business processes increases, and escalates, particularly with the development of the Draft Specification, leadership is one of the key human actions and skills that can not be automated. A short list of the types of work that people will be involved in in the future is as follows.

  • Leadership
  • Issue Identification
  • Issue Resolution
  • Decisions
  • Design
  • Ideas
  • Search

This is to name just a few of the key human activities that will be needed. When we talk about leadership, we note the size and scope of the task that People, Ideas & Objects is focused on. It is the enormity of this task that will require many leaders. Whether its a Product Owner who will work to capture the users demands in the software, or a member of the Community of Independent Service Providers leading a system integration at a producer firm, leadership will be a key skill that will be needed. Hagel & Brown note the somewhat simple process in which this starts.
Leaders can flip these perceptions of risk and reward if they can paint compelling long-term views of the future. This is completely against the grain for most business and political leaders today; they study quarterly numbers to carefully craft a short-term view of the road ahead. Leaders in the big shift will be those who can peer ahead and paint compelling views of opportunities--and not just opportunities for themselves or their institutions but for all kinds of people. If they can help us to make sense of the long-term future, they'll be able to inspire bold action and investment in support of their initiatives, while everyone else sits on the sidelines.
People interested in getting involved with People, Ideas & Objects should contact me here to begin the process of joining this project. People who are interested in building and providing the systems and services the innovative oil and gas producers will need to meet the market demand for energy. We should also take note of the following.
But there will be another even bigger change in leadership. In the past, leaders were measured by how many people followed them. In the era ahead, they will be measured by how many other leaders they can cultivate. We are moving from a world of push, where people are expected to follow detailed scripts to accomplish specified tasks, to a world of pull, where everyone must master the techniques of drawing out people and resources when needed to address unanticipated opportunities and challenges. In the world of push, followers were prized. In the world of pull, everyone must figure out how to become a leader in their own domain.
This makes intuitive sense. With the systems handling the majority of the business, the remaining tasks are not going to be distributed by some all knowing greater power. The more that can be initiated by the leader, the higher the value that is generated for the producers.
Rather than using persuasion to get others to follow predefined programs, the new generation of leaders will use persuasion to help people more effectively draw out their own individual potential. The really effective leader will be one who can persuade emerging leaders to join forces toward common goals and develop faster than they could on their own.
I can’t think of a more exciting place to work. People, Ideas & Objects, the Community of Independent Service Providers offers leaders a place where their skills are needed.
The bottom line: Leaders will no longer be defined by the number of followers they have, but rather by the number of other leaders they have cultivated and mobilized across institutional boundaries. That is a profound shift.
For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Professor Giovanni Dosi, Part IX

And we’re back from a refreshing break. When we look at the decision to implement a new and innovative idea within an oil and gas property, we look to determine where the decision rights reside. In oil and gas the operational decision making authority resides with the Joint Operating Committee. Therefore to increase a firm or industries innovative-ness we have to move the technological and science based innovations closer to the decision making authority in order for them to be implemented. Whereas there may be a meeting of the minds on the course of actions to take, understandably this is also the area where the bureaucracy lurks. Time, or the pace of turnover of these processes, also becomes a critical issue.

In today’s post we will be continuing on with our look at technological paradigms and the effect they have on scientific and innovative trajectories in oil and gas. When discussing these points on innovation, it is important to remember that the sciences, the trajectories they are on, and the opportunities they generate for a producer, are accelerating and will continue to do so. Recognizing the Joint Operating Committee as the key organizational construct, as is done in the Draft Specification, is the means to deal with these scientific paradigms and trajectories, and hence, an area where significant process automation can and will take place through the development of People, Ideas & Objects software applications.

With this process in mind, we note that Professor Dosi suggests two separate phenomenon are observed:

  • First, new technological paradigms have continuously brought forward new opportunities for product development and productivity increases. p. 1138
  • Secondly “A rather uniform, characteristic of the observed technological trajectories is their wide scope for mechanization, specialization and division of labor within and among plants and industries.” p. 1138

Both of these points are inherently understood. If we approach this process to deal with the administrative attributes within the People, Ideas & Objects application modules, we have an opportunity to release those “new opportunities for product development and productivity increases”. We however, also need to understand that the dynamics of these processes require constant “mechanization, specialization and division of labor” as has been contemplated in the software development capability that People, Ideas & Objects provides. Professor Dosi notes one of the benefits of this.
Similarly, new technological paradigms, directly and indirectly -- via their effects on “old” ones -- generally prevent the establishment of decreasing returns in the search process for innovations. p. 1138
Looking to model the management of this process across all producers within all geographical regions would seem to be a difficult task. However, Professor Dosi notes that there are other serious concerns that need to be taken into consideration.
The appearance of new paradigms is unevenly distributed across sectors and so are (a) the degrees of technical difficulties in advancing production efficiency and product performance, and (b) the technological competence to innovate, embodied in people and firms. pp. 1138 - 1139
Simply not everyone will be working off the same page when it comes to the types of innovation, the scale of their application and degree of complexity. In this next quotation it becomes clear that the process under management by the software is the means in which to be able to deal with these underlying paradigms and trajectories. Therefore, in order for the producers to begin the path of innovativeness requires that we resolve these process design issues, and build the software before they are implementable.
These distributions of opportunities and competence, in turn are not random, but depend on (a) the nature of the sectoral production activities, (b) their technological distance from the “revolutionary core” where new paradigms are originated, and (c) the knowledge base that underpins innovation in any one sector. p. 1139
People, Ideas & Objects believes that if we engineer a software application to deal with these issues, we can accelerate the performance of the producer and the industry. From a systems engineering point of view this has been beyond the scope of one software development team working with one producer. For any producer to undertake the required analysis, let alone development of the systems, is beyond the scope of what was possible or desirable. It is well beyond the scope of any software developer to undertake on their own, in a speculative manner, and therefore has been beyond the imaginations and possibilities of the industry. I would also argue that, in the past, automation of this business process would have generated limited value. Today we can define a more specific division of labor and specialization and therefore, provide a more profitable means of oil and gas operation.

To state this point differently, we can focus the resources of the industry on the comprehensive engineering of these processes. Allocating these costs over the entire energy producing base presents opportunities to undertake the detailed development of software that has not been attempted before. This is the approach that is necessary to deal with the issues associated with the producers meeting the market demands for energy. Management of these processes is the key to enabling the organizational performance, technological paradigms and trajectories that Professor Dosi notes in this paper.

For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.