Friday, November 21, 2008

Wall Street Woes- and what to do about it

I don't know about you but I am getting very tired of hearing about Wall Street woes; about executives who must sell their jets and how, somehow, that translates to average folks getting laid off. Its just fear tactics. The issue is Wall Street has only one metric - financial performance. So Wall Street is always overly emotional - down in the dumps or unnecessarily bullish, which leads to hyper-movements of capital. It is an overly constrained system. Wall Street has boxed itself into a single-bottom-line system and doesn't know how to get out. So folks, - if the system isn't working change the system - think out of the box.

Its time the financial wizards admitted they have no clue what to do and start learning from us research types. Wall Street has one metric - the bottom line - and the entire house of cards is built on that. In new product development, at a minimum we evaluate around three metrics - faster, better, cheaper - its the mantra that modulates expectations -maybe you hit one maybe you hit all three - at least there is room for experimentation and different vectors to push. If wall street followed an R&D model it would look for and formalize other metrics besides financial performance. That would allow social entrepreneurs to go mainstream instead of being boutique; get on Wall street and seek capital. allow diversification of capital instead of all based on profit. I don't know what the right answer is but here are some ideas:
- following the micro-finance model - rate a company on how many people are served (not just amount)
- Tax credits (like R&D credits) for companies that serve the BOP - after all they serve those whom the government serves
- IPO for social businesses except - instead of financial returns give voting rights on how to run the company
- New job creation - e.g green job creation gets points
When I first started at HP, we used to say - focus on the value you create not the stock price. If you create value stock price will follow - Value for us was high quality products and a satisfied employee base and a welcoming community wherever we operated. Yes - its time to get back to basics - its takes more than money to be a good capitalist.
I am glad the auto-industry is not getting a bailout; but I am not glad the Wall Street isn't thinking about more change itself.

4 comments:

Bhalchander said...

Hi Neerja,
Excellent post. Very succinct and covered a lot of interesting ideas. I agree that the current capitalism model as defined by wall street is totally boxed in and seems to be producing the wrong kind of innovation. I wrote a post on the need for social business yesterday. http://unitedprosperity.org/blogs/team/2008/11/24/social-capital-and-social-business/
It touches on some of the topics you mention.

Bhalchander
http://www.unitedprosperity.org

Sudipta Das said...

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Sudipta Das
______________
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