Here’s a great podcast from EconTalk with Paul Graham on Start-Ups, Innovation and Creativity.

Graham works in a group called Y Combinator that invests money early on with new business ideas to get them going.  He makes judgment calls on business ideas and people and has  interesting thoughts on the subject and it made me think of a dimension we often neglect when hiring people: creativity.

When hiring we put a premium on those who can get things done, aka doers, and ignore creativity neglecting the fact that most organizations were started by creative people, many game changing ideas come from creative minds and many of your smaller competitors have more creative people.

Many large organizations repel creativity.  Does yours?

Attracting and retaining creative people takes more than putting a Fooz-Ball table in the break room.  It’s really about giving them a bit of rope and seeing what they can do with it and expecting that some things simply aren’t going to work.

At the business where I work, for example, I often hear people try to sell others on a new business model which usually leads to a discussion between smart people on why it will or will not work, but there is no mechanism for someone to go out and give it a try.

Giving it a try entails pushing the idea through the gauntlet of doers who all put their own rider on the idea, making what comes out the other end look like a Rube Goldberg device.  Surprise surprise, the idea fails.  But few people question whether the idea was bad or the execution made impossible by the gauntlet.

Perhaps giving it a try should look more like a leader handing the person with the idea a bag of money, telling them to not break the law or make the company look bad and report back in a few months or a year to see how the experiment is working.   After all, that’s pretty much how most large organizations were started.

Government Run Entertainment?

If government run health care is such a great idea, why not apply that model to other industries?  I wonder what the people in Hollywood would think about government run entertainment?  Is that a good idea?  Why or why not?

The government would collect taxes from everybody, or maybe just the rich or perhaps just the rich entertainers, and appoint a government bureacracy to decide which entertainment projects to fund with that tax money.  Then those projects would be free for all to enjoy.

Sounds like a plan.  Do you like it?  I would be really interested in what people in the entertainment would think of such a plan?  I wonder if they think it might work to improve the entertainment industry?  I’d love to hear their thoughts on potential drawbacks and benefits of a single payer entertainment industry.

Great Question

“How does Germany spend less on health care than the U.S. and have a higher life expectancy?”

I ran across this question on a random blog.  I think it’s a great question. I think the health care debate could be much more productive if we could focus on anwering this question without resorting to name calling, ad hominem attacks and other typical second grade tactics we use to keep us from having to think beyond our current belief system and confronting facts and reality that we find uncomfortable.

In future posts I will address my thoughts on this question.

Beware the Personal Attack

If you find yourself discussing people on one side of the issue or the other you’re trapped in a fallacy of personal attack.  A fallacy is an error in reasoning.  The fallacy of personal attack, or name calling as we were taught in grade school, is a common diversion tactic people use to turn the attention away from the logic of the issue at hand.  

A recent examples of this fallacy was global warming believers labeled global warming skeptics as “deniers” and likened them to haulocaust deniers.  The intent is to keep people who don’t wish to dig into the details firmly planted on one side of the issue for fear of being pinned with the negative label.

Stealing from the global warming playbook , government health care supporters appear to be on this path as well by painting skeptics as loons.

Everyone is guilty of using personal attacks.  It’s a natural tendency and it’s so common that we often don’t recognize it when it’s happening.  

An effective way to deal with a personal attack and steer the conversation back to the topic is to:

1.  Recognize it as its happening.

2.  Identify it to others in the group.  “Well that’s a fine personal attack, but that’s not related to the topic at hand.”

3.  Steer the conversation back to the topic.  “Let’s table the discussion about the personal attack for now, right now we’re talking about [topic].  Whether I am or am not a [accusation of the personal attack] doesn’t effect whether this [topic] is right or wrong.”

On a subject like government run health care the conversation might look like this.  “Well that’s a fine personal attack, calling me a heartless soul.  Whether that’s true or not doesn’t change whether government run health care will achieve your results.   We can come back to the discussion on my soul later.  Now, I’d like to continue discussing why I don’t think government run health care will achieve your desired results and may even hurt the very people you wish to help.  Don’t you want to understand that reasoning?  What if I’m right?  Do you really want to do harm to the people you’re trying to help?”

One of My Jobs as a Parent

One of my jobs as a parent is the wise bestowment of liberty to my kid.  In other words, let him get use to making his own decisions so he doesn’t destroy his life out of the gate.

Single Payer Hair Cuts

I joked with my barber last week that soon the Federal government would be providing free hair cuts to the public so I wouldn’t need to pay him at the time of service, but he would have to fill out a form (rather multiple forms) requesting reimbursement for services from the Federal government.

He chuckled and then his immediate reaction was that his price was going to skyrocket if he had to depend on the Federal government to pay him.

But, it’ll be different with medical care.