Two Headed Coin


Leadership is great. Leadership is about upside. A vision of synergy where the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. Such aspiration is certainly a possibility for government. The moon landing, the ‘Great Society’, the ‘New Deal’, ‘No Child Left Behind’ are all ambitious programmes of communal investment for a great common good.

Such initiatives hold with them the hazards of mischief. People promising windfalls that never comes about. Or people promising upside which everyone contributes to, but only a few benefit from.

You see the same dynamic within a large organisation. ‘Politicians’ (neither ‘Leaders’ nor ‘Managers’) take big risks with corporate funds. If the risk strikes, they take big credit normally in the form of promotions and bonuses. If it misses, being the steward of the bet and initiative, they are usually the first to have a hint of it and so they abandon it either by changing jobs quickly or shuffling it off to some unsuspecting colleague.

The master of spotting unscrupulous incongruity, Nassim Taleb, explains…

  • Capitalism 2.0…We won’t privatise the gains and socialise the losses any more…You will have less debt, so less debt investments, and more investment in upside. In other words, you know you have asymmetry…that you have some people buy the debt and they have almost no upside for all the downside and some people have almost no downside for all the upside. And that will change. You will have more symmetry. In other words, you invest, you take all the risk, you take a portion of the upside and you take a portion of the downside.”

Privatising wins, and Socializing losses.

Heads up!