Self-dealing, essentially, occurs when managers run companies to line their own pockets instead of those of the companies' owners. It's been a perennial problem in American capitalism and became a real dilemma when America moved toward a model in which corporations would be run by professional managers who had only small ownership stakes.
This intelligence, or what I'll call "the wisdom of crowds," is at work in the world in many different guises. It's the reason the Internet search engine Google can scan a billion Web pages and find the one page that has the exact piece of information you were looking for. It's the reason it's so hard to make money betting on NFL games, and it helps explain why, for the past fifteen years, a few hundred amateur traders in the middle of Iowa have done a better job of predicting election results than Gallup polls have.
Auto repair, piloting, skiing, perhaps even management: these are skills that yield to application, hard work, and native talent. But forecasting an uncertain future and deciding the best course of action in the face of that future are much less likely to do so. And much of what we've seen so far suggests that a large group of diverse individuals will come up with better and more robust forecasts and make more intelligent decisions than even the most skilled "decision maker."
What corporations fear is the phenomenon now known, rather inelegantly, as 'commoditization.' What the term means is simply the conversion of the market for a given product into a commodity market, which is characterized by declining prices and profit margins, increasing competition, and lowered barriers to entry.
If army ants are wandering around and they get lost, they start to follow a simple rule:Just do what the ant in front of you does. The ants eventually end up in a circle. There's this famous example of one that was 1,200 feet long and lasted for two days; the ants just kept marching around and around in a circle until they died.
<< previousnext >>