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« CRM Stats Strike Again...and Again...and Again...Ad Nauseum | Main | So? »

August 06, 2005


Denis Pombriant


I just read your posting and couldn't agree more. but I also think that instead of the gurus being averse to anything, I think most are simply at an inflection point where they don't know what to think. They'll get their act together soon and then the herd will start moving again...wait a minute! That's the problem!

But seriously, I am always impressed with you as a writer and it is wonderful to read somebody who can use a few classical allusions without self-consciousness or pretense.

Second, I agree whole heartedly with you on many points — the Zuboff reference was great. One of the more amorphous things that I think you speak about actually has a name, it’s called “over financialization” and I first read about it in Kevin Philips’s fine book “Wealth and Democracy” but lately it has been echoed in the Economist, though in idea only not the exact term. Over-financialization happens when we all start thinking like accountants — know what the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are? I can’t name them all any more but they were on page one of an accounting text book I read a long time ago and the idea has stayed with me. Essentially, they state that tomorrow will be exactly like today. Enough said. Science is dying and being replaced by the secular religion of finance.

The best description of the problem I have comes from Sumantra Ghoshal of the London School of Economics (he died earlier this year but lives on at by way of The Economist. To quote The Economist: “He believed that the desire of business schools to make a study of business a science, “a kind of physics”, has led them increasingly to base their management theories on some of the more dismal assumptions and techniques developed by economists, particularly by the “Chicago School” and its intellectual leader, Milton Friedman. These include supposedly simplistic models of individual human behavior (rational, self-interested, utility maximizing homo economicus) and of corporate behavior (the notion that the goal of a firm should be to maximize shareholder value). These assumptions, though in Mr Ghoshal’s view badly flawed, were simple enough to allow business-school academics to develop grand theories of management supported by elegant mathematical models and empirical analysis that appeared scientific, and thus earned their subject academic respectability, but were in fact, a pretence of knowledge where there was none.”

The May issue of Harvard Business Review also has an article about what B-schools are doing wrong and it's along the same lines but the article is not nearly as pithy as The Economist. Maybe there's a trend here. Privately I always thought that once we had an MBA president it would be open season on MBA jokes. MBAs are to Republicans what lawyers were to New Deal and later Democrats -- implementers of their policies. Our culture has a treasure trove of lawyer jokes but few really funny MBA jokes, (though you can find a few by Googling). Why is that? Are money and business too sacred in our culture to make fun of?

Anyhow, back to your posting, if you ever wonder why “The Budget” is so sacred or why no one is taking risks any more, re-read the above paragraph from The Economist.


David Sifry

Great post. looking forward to hearing more about this, and how the "traditional" CRM world adapts and changes.


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