America. A place where risk and renewal is a way of life. What happened to that? I wonder because I see on CNN.com a story called Report: Repairing U.S. bridges would cost $140 billion. How is it that our bridges are in such condition? I’ve cited before that I agree with an EPI plan that provides a Stimulus package to the states that pays for infrastructure projects. I agree with this because it puts people to work and it repairs the foundation that is required for commerce. Plus it needs to be done anyway.
But really, why hasn’t someone come along with a better way to do bridges? Why are bridges so expensive? Where are the people that take a look at these problems with a different eye and come up with some that is innovation? There is a lot of money to be made.
But what I think is causing the slow demise of the US is the management tool – Cost/Benefit analysis. Sound silly? Hear me out. The Cost/Benefit analysis reviews the case for the project. For example, if someone buys a house but wants to make big changes to it they can either bull doze it and start completely over or they can build on the existing frame. If you do a cost/benefit analysis you almost always come up with using the frame. But using the frame puts in constraints. I know the constraints are part of the analysis but what isn’t is the motif, the creative side, and the freedom. A generation before saw opportunity differently than many investors do now. The idea was to hit home runs you have to swing big. But the idea now seems to be to just get on base. But that doesn’t get you much. There is a lot of collateral benefits to big risks. There is the new approach which brings with it new trial and error learning. There is the amassing of resources. And there is the prestige. The pride. The identification.
Risk and renewal is now hedge and duct tape.