The first full panel of the conference featured keynotes by Clayton Christensen, Phil Kotler, Anil Gupta and Roger Martin (who provided the quote in the title!). Interestingly, there seemed to be general agreement that the way our capital markets are set up are no longer beneficial to entrepreneurial growth, and may indeed be a drag on the entire American economy. Roger Martin juxtaposed the organizational quest for reliability (as in meeting numbers and targets) with a search for what he calls ‘validity’ – meaning achieving outcomes people actually want, rather than metrics that are poor surrogates. In particular, he criticizes the public markets for over-emphasizing reliability and under-investing in the innovations which can create new forms of validity. I hadn’t realized that the practice of companies providing financial guidance was only institutionalized in 1996.
This point of view seems to be increasingly in vogue, as observers note that companies are rewarding investors and executives at the expense of employees and the long-term, a point made compellingly by Bill Lazonick. As our recent election seems to suggest, we are overdue for a rethink of these fundamental allocations of resources.