Undermine Prevailing Orthodoxies

Don’t trust the Federal Reserve? Then consider mobile money. As much as 40% of all economic transactions in some African countries are now being conducted using a cell phone, bypassing the corrupt Federal Reserve banks of those countries. Want to buy that head of cattle? Give me your cell phone number. Okay, confirmed. It's yours. Illustrative Quote (2010). Based on insights shared by a management consulting colleague working in 'Mobile Money'

World Class R&DThis is an example of undermining the prevailing orthodoxies. The Post Office is an anachronism? We go to e-mail, texting and overnight delivery. If we think the FDA is old-and-in-the-way, we conduct our eINDs (exploratory first-in-human studies) in Belgium. If we want to put in place a World Class R&D capability despite the prevailing bureaucratic structures, we look to …?

Our goal is to undercut the prevailing orthodoxies of industrial R&D. We look for cracks and weaknesses in the current infrastructures that we can exploit to allow the emergence of a new R&D social order. It’s rarely practical to confront entrenched interests directly – they merely harden their position. Instead we allow them to slowly crumble, through their own arrogance and blindness, as we find new ways to achieve our goals outside the established order.

This is not anarchy: World Class R&D has a vision for tomorrow that is practical and filled with tools and techniques proven effective in real work settings. This is creative destruction. We demolish the present fully aware of the workable future that can arise. We exploit our vision of the future to help us identify cracks in the current infrastructure, and then we pick them apart. Here’s the program:

  • Develop the vision for the future (e.g., World Class R&D)
  • Mine this vision to better understand weaknesses in the current infrastructure
  • Uncover creative ways to exploit these weaknesses
  • Relentlessly pound away at the weaknesses until the structure collapses

First we claim the moral high ground. You can only recruit a cadre of dedicated followers when they fully believe in the end game+. For industrial R&D this is easy: the current structures undermine the individuality and freedom of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of highly educated researchers who should be looking to advance human progress, and instead are busy looking over their shoulders. Our end game is nothing less than economic advancement+, highly satisfying personal careers and jobs, and the betterment of the health and welfare of millions of people, including many suffering under the most wretched conditions imaginable.

The tools we have at our disposal are economic, legal, technological and political. The first three are at the service of the last: it’s all about politics and power. Undermine the powers-that-be and you’re assured of success. We do this by recognizing that power is only offset by power – so we recruit those now excluded from power as our allies with an offer to them of greater power under the new social structure. Help us to undermine the powers-that-be and you, the underclass, are positioned to step into the vacuum that will ensue.

This may be a long struggle. Major change often requires we wait for the old guard to die off, literally. In the meantime, the promise of change should keep us animated. We know the secret handshake, that wink-and-a-nod, those ‘code words’ that identify us to our fellow conspirators. The manifesto cannot be laid out in this short article. That must wait for fuller treatment at a future time. But this article and this month’s website give a glimpse of the struggle, and the tactics we will employ.


For a delightful story of how, in exploiting the new Enlightenment thinking,  a British shopkeeper went beyond the station of his class in 18th century Bath, England, listen to the lecture of Dr. Lawrence Klein, introduced here.