Grete Chan, 13 June 2013
An interesting article came up on Quartz discussing Wall street’s version of the Game of Thrones, as many holds the HBO series dear as their manual to their cut-throat life. The series talks about noble families battling it out for the throne, while involving in political scheming tactics, gory bloodbaths, cut-throat competition, treachery, backstabbing, alliance swingers and issues of trust.
The sad thing is, many of these adrenaline pumped finance types compared their lives to the bloody battlefield depicted in the series, as if they are really on the defensive to avoid having their throats cut, while Brian DeChesare of Mergers $ Acquisitions even uses quotes from television series as a guide to climbing the corporate ladder.
Is this glorification of war and blood a good analogy for these proud beings, perhaps exuding too much testosterone to see clearly that their job is not a battlefield, there is no blood, and the truth is, business is just business? Have we lost all sense of morality and honor in place of fraud and fees?
Furthermore, when friendships are at stake for the sake of rivalry, should we start to ask ourselves, when is this going too far?
There is a growing demand for Compliance because of the war game mentality, as society calls for them to slow down and have a good look at what they are doing. Laws are in place to keep check with a greater purpose of sustainable business. This should not be a game, rather the focus should be more on the value for community. Revolutions are made as a reminder of when this game mentality has gone too far, and those who never wanted to be in this game just had enough of this child play.
Take away Values, not the Game
If we must look to movies for guidance, let’s see the values, not how to play the game:
1. The Godfather
In The Godfather I – the value of family resounds over everything, including the business. Of course we see the degeneration of The Godfather in II – who betrayed this value, and in III – feelings of regret and punishment for betraying this value.
This goes back to the point when you are so into the game that you begin to betray your own family and friends, think of the regret that would follow and the life of remorse for the betrayal.
2. The Dark Knight
Superheroes are not perfect, and with powers come responsibility. In the Dark Knight, Batman shows us that it’s not all about winning, and sometimes you have to lose for the greater good of society, and to maintain hope and stability for a better future.
3. Saving Private Ryan
We now live in a life of KPIs, targets and MIS reports. While all is necessary for the smooth functioning of a business, we must not forget the people behind those numbers, and that they are the ones who are driving the business. In war, generals become lost in the obsession to win, thus soldiers become numbers, and OK means zero (0) Kills.
In Saving Private Ryan, due to a human purpose, a small special force dropped into the war zone to save one person regardless of the statistics of potential death. Business should not be all about numbers, we must remember that this is not a war, it should be a service to society.
The list can go on. Next time we think of the game, think of the values and what we can do to sustain a better future.
Update 18 June 2013:
For those interested in use of movie references in the business world, Commissioner Bart Chilton of CFTC gave a rather entertaining speech at the Yale Club on the current regulatory situation, apparently the favorite dining place for the Great Gatsby himself. As Chilton sums up,
(Argo) “It’s the best bad idea we have sir, by far.” I hope it wasn’t too bad an idea to do a little cinefile-laced policy trip with you guys.
You can review his speech here.