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The Analytical Geometry of a Trump Administration

By Shlomo Maital

trump-x-y

   After the pundits and experts totally missed the Trump electoral wave, they now weigh in with predictions about what Trump and his administration will do. I’ve read these carefully, and they are largely frivolous, as frivolous as the punditry that assumed a Clinton victory.

     However, NYT columnist Ross Douhat weighs in today (Dec. 29), at the year end, with some wisdom, based strangely enough on analytical geometry.   Consider, Douhat says, an X Y diagram.

       On the X axis, place Trump’s policies. They can run from populism all the way to conservatism. Populism would involve spend-spend. Conservatism would involve cut-cut, put government at all levels on a starvation diet. Where will the Trump administration be?

         On the Y axis, place Trump’s approach to governance, ranging from ruthless authoritarianism (Putin-style dictatorship) to utter chaos (an inexperienced administration rife with scandals, incompetent and unable to organize a paper bag). Except for the scandals, remind you at all of the Obama 8-year term?   Where will Trump be?

         Here are four possibilities, according to Douhat: 1. Authoritarian-populist: Trump panders to the masses, ignores the Congress, uses executive mandates…sort of how he ran his businesses (into the ground). 2. Chaos-populist: Trump flies around the country and the world, gets nothing done, and ultimately, lets Paul Ryan (House Speaker) become the de facto President, because, well, being President is both boring and hard work, and you need to read a lot, and Trump only reads tweets. 3. Chaotic, conservative. Congress cancels Obamacare, with no replacement and millions have no health insurance. America’s role in the world shrinks, as the U.S. deals with its own internal mess. 4. Authoritarian-conservative. Trump is ‘managed’ by his conservative appointees and the Congress.     There is a fifth possibility: a Sweet Spot: X = 3, Y = 3, competence without dictatorship, moderate conservatism without cruelty.

     Douhat says “this is Donald Trump we’re talking about, so a happy medium seems unlikely”.

     What do YOU think? Where is America’s X and Y going to be?

    

How to Cope with a VUCA World

By Shlomo Maital

Nonsense

   What in the world is a VUCA world?   VUCA is an acronym, standing for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity . And daily, the world seems determined to prove how increasingly VUCA it is!

     This is why, in this blog, I write so often about discomfort, ambiguity, chaos and how we relate to them all.   In the latest Scientific American, Gareth Cook interviews author Jamie Holmes about his new book Nonsense: The Upside of Ambiguity. Here are some excerpts from what Holmes observes:

        Moments of confusion can be pretty memorable, and not in a good way. How is this thing supposed to work? What is the teacher’s point? Where am I, and how do I get to where I am going? But confusion is greatly underrated, argues the journalist Jamie Holmes in his new book, “Nonsense.” Naturally, it is good to understand. Yet, Holmes writes, our discomfort with not knowing can lead us astray — to bad solutions, or to brilliant options never spotted. If we could learn to embrace uncertainty, we’d all be better off — and better prepared for modern life.

   In hiring, for instance, a high need for closure (a clear firm yes/no decision) leads people to put far too much weight on their first impression. It’s called the urgency effect. In making any big decision, to counteract that, it’s not enough just to know that we should take our time. We all know that important decisions shouldn’t be rushed. The problem is that we don’t keep that advice in mind when it matters. Before making important decisions, write down not just the pros and cons but what the consequences could be. Also, think about how much pressure you’re under. Are you tired or feeling rushed? If your need for closure is particularly high that day, it’s even more important to be deliberate.

            I absolutely agree. Never EVER let pressure from others rush your decisions. Take a deep breath. Say to yourself, YOUR crisis is not necessarily MY problem.

       Holmes: “One area where there is more and more interest in ambiguity is among entrepreneurs and businesspeople, simply because the future in many business sectors is highly ambiguous. Earlier this year, Thomas Friedman had an op-ed about disorder in the business world (“Chaos is the New World Order”, see my blog on this) where he highlighted just how disruptive the business models of Uber, Facebook, Alibaba, and Airbnb are. Uber is the biggest taxi company in the world, he pointed out, yet has no cars. Facebook doesn’t create media, Alibaba has no inventory, and Airbnb doesn’t own the real estate it uses. So the communication platforms we’re using are revolutionizing a range of industries.”

In our schools — do we equip our children to deal with a VUCA world?  Or is the world we create for them one of canned tests with right and wrong answers, where you must not be wrong ever?    If the world is grey, rather than black and white,  why does that color never appear in our schools?

Chaos Is the New World Order

By Shlomo Maital

     Chaos

  Thomas Friedman’s latest New York Times column helps us understand what is going on in the world.  In a word:  Chaos.  Chaos is the new world order.  Here is what he means.

   Quoting a high-tech executive, Tom Goodwin,  Friedman notes:  Uber is the world’s biggest taxi company but has no taxis. Facebook is the world’s most popular media owner but has no content. Alibaba is the world’s most valuable retailer but has no inventory.  Airbnb is the world’s biggest accommodation provider but has no real estate.

    So what is going on?  More and more businesses are simply doing global matchmaking (someone needs something, someone else has it), without owning assets.  More and more businesses are digitally creating markets where none existed before.  (You have a seat in your car?  Why not use it to make some spare cash?)

    This trend is highly disruptive, because it disorganizes and reinvents whole industries, in no time.  The existing players (taxi drivers, hotels) have little time to adapt. 

     It’s pretty clear, out of this chaos will emerge some order, and the chaos is actually creating value.  But the implications are huge.   A whole range of job skills will disappear.  New patterns of markets and ownership will emerge. 

     For now, chaos is the new world order.   How are YOU adjusting and adapting?  Do you have a job skill that will be needed in a year or two, or do you need to reinvent yourself and your skills?  If so, how will  you do it? 

    These are interesting times indeed.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital

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