It's rarely fun being an England sports fan (with the exception of today's Rugby Union team who scraped a win over Australia mostly our teams disappoint). The current football world cup provides yet another opportunity for an
England team to
counter our excessively high expectations.
I'm sure someone else has mentioned it, but the whole event (indeed perhaps sport itself) seems to me to serve as a social object: it gives us an excuse to interact with each other when we wouldn't otherwise: it provides the essential lubrication of our social world, whether or not you understand the Offside Rule or not.
So far in the last few weeks I've conversed with taxi drivers in 5 countries about it, florists & fishmongers, bank clerks and (of course) clients. Good or bad, the antics of the likes of Rooney give us something to talk about and share. And whether we win or lose, that's the real truth behind former Liverpool Manager Bill Shankly's oft-quoted "Football's not a matter of life and death; it's more important than that". It's about us, ultimately.
Here's something I've been wanting to get off my chest for a while. Not sure it's that popular, but that doesn't stop it being fundamentally right.
Amid all the confusion of the last year or so you can't have missed the increasing popularity of suggesting that the public sector (i.e. things owned in common by you and me, delivering essential services for you and me) has got to be reduced in size and importance (relative to the private sector - the stuff that is owned by a relatively small number of people and delivering largely non-essential services to you and me)
Of course, running huge fiscal deficits (having more of this stuff around than you can pay for or plan to pay for) is not something that is such a good idea (depending where you are in the cycle).
All of which has led to calls for a debate about the public sector: what is it for? Which services should it provide and which should it leave to Social Enterprise and the market? More importantly, how should it be funded and who should pay how much for it?
But there's precious little discussion of what business is for? Who does it serve and how? How should we evaluate business? Merely in terms of shareholder value as we have done for the last couple of decades? Or are there (as I and some others have been arguing for some time) some other things that businesses should be doing?
Aside from the late conversion to the Purpose Idea in US marketing writers - there's precious little public debate on what business is for, either here or in the US. It seems to be taken as read that private enterprise - being the opposite of the public (or commonly owned) sector - is ok because its motives are purely financial/venal (delete as inappropriate).
cartoon (above) is a great start in this conversation - if one of the other main points of business is it's social functions (for its employees, customers and society at large) then maybe we ought to start putting a number of these (other) dimensions. Being (economically) efficient (i.e. employing lots of people) if that serves other goals (e.g. serving a community).
Not least because if we don't do so then the existing kinds of number (sales, proftis, shareholder value and senior management's reward programmes which are based on these) will continue to dominate and distort the private sector further.
Another little suggestion from HERD HQ: with all this talk of communities and social objects, just remember that at best your brand is "garnish", not the main deal.
Of course, there are some brands which are centre-plate, but for most of us, if we do really well, we get to be on the side. And even for the centre-platers, it's often the social stuff that's baked in that gives it its status.
Hugh coined this bon mot today and I think he's on to something. Not that anyone set out to design a thing which would achieve this for us...and of course, it also does other stuff, good and bad. No, the internet and all the associated technologies have turned out to be so powerful because they unleash our social souls....our incredible desire and need to live our lives in the company of others, to be social creatures.
That's not just hanging out with others like us on social media platforms, or lurking fanboy/girl-like around our fave blogs or twitterers or even listening in that rather spooky way that we've all got used to doing but more fundamentally, being connected to each other enables us to be the social creature we were made to be: to navigate the big world of people and things through other people's reactions to it, to seek safety and protection and solace from other people. To be human, in other words.
But the important thing - and the really revolutionary stuff at play here - is that this kind of technology destroys many of the cultural, economic and politic brakes on our fundamentally social nature.