Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The World Upside Down

When I was a little chap, I loved the World Upside Down Game. Lying on the floor you look up at the ceiling and imagine a world where that was the floor. You need to step over the edges as you walk through doors. The floor has a light pointing upwards in the middle. Taking a bath is particularly awkward.

The game quickly descends into madness. Things clearly can't all be upside down. Unless you go to Australia. In the real world upside down you get to watch world cup cricket during the day. Even though you are upside down, you don't really realise it. The friend who I am staying with's driveway  is straight out of Kill Bill. Theoretically it should have been easy to walk up this near vertical path with my backpack since I was upside down. 

No, everything can't be opposite. The advantage of there being lots of different places is that we can see how differently things can be done. With social media there isn't even a filter so that we only hear the things that make it past the editor and potentially the government censors. As you travel around the world is mostly the same with a few different flavours, but we should be able to easily spot the things that are upside down. The things that need to change.

I spoke in 'Not Personal' about the Asymmetry between companies who don't depend on one particular employee and employees for whom jobs come to define a big chunk of their lives. The same thing exists at a Nation State level. Within a country, you can move around quite easily between cities and find places where things are done well. For all the problems facing Europe, I am a big fan of the idea of free movement of people and ideas. This can decrease the dependence of individuals on states in the same way states aren't dependent on (particular) individuals. You can vote with your feet. In the same way I believe companies would treat staff very well if it was very easy for them to leave, countries would have to work harder for loyalty if the same was true.

The same could be said for politicians. Sports teams have recently started professionalising coaching. You can get someone from a different nationality helping the team. I would be keen to see something similar for politics. What if we could see someone doing a great job doing somewhere else and they could then come run for president elsewhere? Alarm bells go off in our tribal cores! No. The person must be one of us. Why should a country have to work for loyalty? Where is your patriotism! 

I have realised my patriotism lies with good ideas, good people and figuring out how to do things better. Sometimes that requires looking at things a little differently.

Steep driveways are still steep in the World Upside Down

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