Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Righteous Mind

By Jonathan Haidt.  This is an astonishing book about how people are motivated and why different people are motivated along political and religious lines.  One part of the book examines why people who are by nature individually competitive (how can I get more of X. if a chimpanzee (bananas, mates); if a human (Mercedes, mates, jets)
Can also work cooperatively for a common good (think military defense).  He discusses ways that corporations can take advantage of the hivish nature and it struck me that many of these describe the successful startups in which I have worked:

1. Emphasize similarity not diversity.  The races do not matter; what you have in common should be the focus.  He even mentions sharing the same first name!  One startup I was in had about 60 people of whom 9 were named Dave.

2. Exploit synchrony.  The examples he gives are very Japanese: company wide exercise, marching together.  But I think back to our volleyball tournaments where we formed teams and played volleyball at lunch or after work.  (Those were good times.)

3. Groups of up to 150 that were relatively egalitarian and wary of alpha males.

Yes, these describe the two mildly successful startups for which I worked.  We hired an alpha male at one who turned a $300 million company into a $110 million dollar company in 18 months.

There is a lot to learn from this book.

"Societies that forgo the exoskeleton of religion should reflect carefully on what will happen to them over several generations.  We don't really know, because the first atheistic societies have only emerged in Europe in the last few decades.  They are the least efficient societies ever known at turning resources (of which they have a lot) into offspring (of which they have very few)." (p. 323)

1 comment:

  1. “Emphasize similarity not diversity.”

    Whoa, how did he ever get this published? Oh, it‘s 10 years old. Interestingly the paperback delivered tomorrow is $5 cheaper than the Kindle version downloaded now. Paper it is.