09 September 2007


Just Trust The Monkey's Judgment*

A great friend of mine has been working on a series of film projects. One of the very old drafts dwells on a post-apocalyptic society ruled by an oracle-king with a staff of acolyte government ministers. These people interpret the king's communications and enforce the resulting rule of law. Ordinary citizens, for a number of contextually reasonable motives, enthusiastically follow the lead of this unseen and inaccessible divine font. You will not be shocked to find that the rules create a compelling and barely functional dystopia. Oh, and the king happens to be a captive monkey.

Fascinating, Edward. So… what are you talking about?

Well, now that I've written a short explication of how I think a company should aspire to act, I don't expect that to be the end of it – even if everyone says that yes, those comprise a great bunch of principles. It would not surprise me to find that doing only that invites the creation of a JTTMJ-like scenario. The acolytes abstract meaning from a monkey’s gestures; a standalone document is open to abject interpretation.

I should perhaps draw a conclusion here. Alas, all I’ve got at the moment is a cautionary sense that if the standards to which a company holds itself are not aggressively and wisely supported, it’s an invitation to disaster. So then, how about a tangent instead?

It has been pointed out to me that the set of people who can both agree to the spirit of my list of corporate principles and put those principles into practice is a narrow set indeed. At the same time, I don’t think that any of those people would be inclined to just trust the monkey’s judgment, so to speak. They're already going to be resistant to building up byzantine bureaucracy or cruelly adhering to the letter of dogma. If it’s just a few people, then that's the way it'll have to be. Actually, I think that could be a good thing. It is, maybe, a challenge to growth and scalability. But folks of that stripe should be drawn to a cluster of their peers. Exclusivity can be a strength, and a crowd draws a crowd, even a small crowd. It strikes me that a few committed people are better off by far than a large group of uncommitted people.

Ladies and gentelmen, I give you Kool-Aid Man* I’m using JTTMJ in a similar sense as drink the Kool-Aid. I think The Big Man would approve, though.

[Please note that this post will be radically altered if the originator of "JTTMJ" objects to its use here.]

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