A recent review by the Economist of the newly released book “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World” by William Cohan grabbed my attention as it was titled “Long on chutzpah, short on friends” which sparked interesting thoughts as hey, who needs friends right? Well as the story cites an example of the firms legendary application of “chutzpah” if you will was on the evening before a long Memorial Day weekend was to start. A senior partner of the investment firm Goldman Sachs decided to keep some 40 new recruits hold up in a conference room for five hours, until reaching the hour of 10pm, just to teach them the value of patience. Of these 40 folks who started the vigil, the three who made the decision to leave early, who were driven by the private “urge” to begin their holidays early, were quickly shown the door only a few days later. As the goal of the book as well as the article is to explore was this act simply a pointless exercise in ego building cruelty or a simple way to communicate the corporate culture.
As there isn’t any question that Goldman is one of the worlds’ most envied as well as of at least recently, renowned securities firm as it appears that much of what Goldman does seems to warrant both a dichotomy of admiration and opprobrium in equal measure. As if we look at the role it played in the global credit crisis where it managed to dodge many of the bullets which in the end took down a number of its rivals, however to do so it cashed in on others’ misery and questionably pushing the acceptable envelope of business ethics.
However in today’s socially connected world as we move away from industrialization or the land of chutzpah, which “aspect” is more important for the success of business? Now the goal here is not to go all social as chutzpah was a key ingredient in America’s past success, and fully believe it will always have a place, the only question is how much? Using another analogy here is the US Military as in its day during the same period of industrialization the iconic image of R. Lee Ermey arose of the foul mouth drill sergeant demeaning there charges with very few words which were greater than 4 letters long. However today’s Army while still direct, is a far more “organized” then “individualized” entity with a greater emphasis on teams rather than individual heroes. As keep in mind, the history books are full of heroes however they all happen to be dead which is an important point to understand, as there is little personal value in a business approach of this nature.
So the big question is how we keep a measure of chutzpah in our business models as it is one of the clear drivers of the typical American ability to boot strap. However we need to ensure its balanced with the need to be social and collaborative as the ability to come together not only as a group, however also a crowd is a new success factor in the post industrialization era …