Venture capitalist Anthony K. Tjan suggested on the Harvard Business Review’s website earlier this year that we all should just take a moment.
Perhaps channeling an “Ally McBeal” character, Tjan advocated what he deemed a “slow conversation movement” — an effort to get back “to real, authentic and live conversations.” Fewer screens, more face time.
From this new, old-fashioned approach, organizations can set better priorities and develop more successful collaboration, Tjan suggested.
He’s right. No doubt we all could benefit from less angst translating Mississippi River-long email streams — “When you wrote A, did you mean B …?” — and fuller conversations with actual humanoids.
But I also can see the increasingly insistent urge to swerve for the fast lane. Right now, today, the list of unfinished chores that affect how we do business is growing to staggering proportions.
Here’s just a small sampling of festering concerns:
Advocates contend this would give more money to folk who’ll have to spend it — on food, clothing and shelter — and thus circulate more cash in the economy. Moreover, if you pay workers better, they’ll stick around, reducing employee churn.
But small businesses in particular reply that bottom-line common sense says forcing them to pay more in wages simply means they’ll hire fewer people. And during the latest recession they’ve learned to achieve more means with less — economists call that “labor displacement.”
David Neumark and William Wascher, who wrote a book titled, of all things, “Minimum Wage,” agree. They say that their research into 20 years of data indicated that higher pay benefits those who keep their jobs — but overall it reduces employment opportunities for less-skilled workers, a reviewer for the MIT Press wrote.
On the other hand, all those not working equals more burden on government jobless ledgers, right?
So when automakers get in trouble, we revisit the debate as to our collective obligation. When China allegedly steals our stuff, we get in a huff at WTO meetings about trade restrictions and intellectual-property theft.
Or when another trade partnership is tendered, we start yelling about more jobs going overseas — even if that’s not always what would happen. Is a deal with the European Union is good idea? Heck if I know.
How is anyone supposed to plan when you don’t know what’s coming around the bend? Many businesses have offered this federal fog as an excuse to hold tight on spending.
But, gosh, we surely should be able to peer far enough to get our bearings. As shenanigans in Washington, D.C., have stood, four years, even a couple quarters, of predictability has been too much to expect.
Did we elect smart leaders to make good policy or did we send forth stubborn warriors to do battle for narrow ideologies?
I think I need to take a moment here ….