Working for the Group
Category: Column By : James Kallman Read : 118 Date : Monday, September 04, 2017 - 12:33:18

In the helter-skelter pace of today’s world, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the rush for the latest technology and forget that really the basics of life remain remarkably stable. And as Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos knowingly says: “You can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”

That is not to say there won’t be changes in the way we live our lives. There certainly will, but it’s just that they will have no effect on the stages we pass through, or on the basics we need to do so. Put in the simplest terms, from the minute of our birth until our last exhalation of breath, we all need shelter and sustenance. Of course, the sophistication of providing for such needs has grown exponentially since we progressed from using natural shelter and picking berries off trees. So too have the ancillary requirements to help meet those needs.

One early lesson learned was that the strength of the group is often greater than the sum of its constituent parts. For if groups were initially formed for protection, it did not take long to realize that by utilizing the superior skills of different individuals in specific areas the overall skill level of the group became stronger—more could be accomplished, thereby making it easier to survive, and raising the quality of life for all.

Yet progression has not run evenly for Homo Sapiens Inc. as can be seen from the wide variation in living standards across the world—even within individual nations. Maybe it’s time, therefore, to re-evaluate the functions of the constituents of our modern society, and how they interact. We need to optimally utilize available talents for the most effective benefit of the whole group.

Scientists discover things, leaving it to the technicians to iron out the practicalities of use. Businessmen, meanwhile, work on the profitability of balancing income from users against payments to producers. Regulators, ultimately politicians, are supposed to oversee matters to ensure that everyone gets their fair share.

Politicians must remember, though, that they’re elected to serve all the people, not just special interest groups. As such, while ensuring the basic infrastructure is in place to enable business to operate, governments must also guarantee the availability of foodstuffs, water, power, affordable housing, and so on, for the general public. However, business must play its part in the provision of such services too, cooperating with government in construction and operation, or providing ancillary services to work in conjunction with those of the government.

For those who question whether such cooperation between government and the private sector is possible, I watch a prime example of Jakarta as a “smart city” each morning. As the trains disgorge their passengers from the city outskirts they descend on the waiting horde of motorcycles of Go-Jek and the like. Everyone’s happy with this optimization of travel plans that benefits each individual party, a perfect example of working for the group.