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Business

Vicarious Learning

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As you know from my blog, I’m no introvert, and I’m not drawn to being a reflective learner by preference. But lots of my friends are still reading Quiet, and I know that lots of introverts hate the sort of learning that feels like making a fool of yourself in public, so I thought you’d be interested in this. Read More

7 Deadly Sins – capitalism’s flat-earth problem and what to do about it

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JustShare Lecture – St Mary-le-Bow Church – 29 January 2014 at 6.05pm

In general, market capitalism depends on 7 big ideas. Economists like to look scientific, so they tend to present these ideas as laws of nature. But even scientific truth is not this fixed, and the flat-earthers have moved on. But not so the Economists. The 7 big ideas that served the market so well in the past have now become sins not virtues, and are toxic to its future. And unless we correct the system at a fundamental level, reform is doomed to fail. But where to start? Tonight I’ll start with a quick run down on Capitalism’s 7 Deadly Sins. Then I will talk about the theology that informs my critique and ask some tricky questions. After all, it’s hardly fair to attack the market’s beliefs without being candid about my own. Finally, I’ll suggest ways in which Christians everywhere can get involved in the market’s reform.

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Wilde’s Happy Prince for workaholics

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Oscar Wilde wrote a heart-rending fairytale called The Happy Prince. In it, a swallow befriends the statue of a town’s late prince. From his plinth, the Happy Prince sees his people suffering, and asks the swallow to help them, using the decoration from his statue. The ruby is taken from his sword hilt, the sapphires are plucked from his eyes, and the gold leaf covering his body is torn off by the swallow, to alleviate the plight of the poor. The Mayor walks by, and looks up. Seeing the now ugly statue, he orders it to be pulled down, and thrown away.

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Ethical Investment

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As I mentioned on Radio 4 last week (starts at 38 minutes), I was highly delighted with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s embarrassment over the revelation that the Church Commissioners have inadvertently invested in Wonga. Adam Smith reckoned that the origin of morality was that we feel held in the gaze of the other. It is the risk of embarrassment – or that good old-fashioned word, shame – that keeps us on the straight and narrow. Read More

Drunk in Charge? The CEO Sleep Scandal

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What’s on the average manager’s mind? Too much, it would appear. In one of their periodic bedroom surveys, Ashridge Business School found that managers spend fewer than 7 hours asleep at night, and this decreases as seniority increases. Match this up with a long-day no-lunch culture, and this becomes an extremely alarming statistic. 17 hours of sustained wakefulness has been shown to result in changes in behaviour equivalent to drinking 2 glasses of wine. In the UK people who’ve drunk this much aren’t allowed to drive or operate machinery, yet their equivalents are at the helm of some of our largest companies, making really scary decisions, every single day. Should shareholders be worried?

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Pope on the ropes

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The Pope (Retd) is to spend the rest of his days quietly in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae nunnery (sans nuns). It may be that a scandal has yet to emerge, which would explain a little better why this pope really decided to retire, the first to do so in 600 years. But if he has genuinely decided to throw in the towel on grounds of ill-health, he may have just performed his most important act as a global leadership role model. His exit contains valuable insight for those in any sacred or secular profession, particularly where a role has become vocational.

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