System Error

There once was a man, who after years of trying, won $5 million dollars in his state’s lottery. He won on a Tuesday. Thinking his activities had somehow influenced his winning, this man reverse-engineered all the steps taken on that day. In his mind, he had found a winning system.

The morning he purchased this lottery ticket, he left home at 8:17 a.m. He grabbed coffee at the local BP gas station. Rita waited on him at the counter. He paid with loose change and upon leaving, said “good morning” to a man in a blue polka dot shirt exiting an ’89 Honda Civic Hatchback.

He then drove five miles east, catching every green light except one, the last one. He arrived at a second BP gas station where he purchased a white Moon Pie with sawdust-colored filling from old Mr. Grimes.

Today, 10 years later, this lottery winner has a trunk full of molded Moon Pies, and a bucket of loose change in his car. He never hit the lottery again.

There are several problems with his “system.” Old Mr. Grimes died. On the site of the first BP gas station is now an apartment complex. He never saw the man in the polka dot shirt again. He could never reproduce what transpired on that winning Tuesday morning. The system had an expiring relevance, and so do most systems today.

We live in a world of systems. The system of racial identity, the system of resumés, the system of media. Most of the individuals or ideas that originally created the system you are now following are dead.

Success today is defined by those who realize this—failure is defined by those who don’t. Have you noticed how many young people are becoming successful in half the time of their previous generation? This is because these young people have either ignored the previous system or are oblivious to it.

In this new environment, if your company fails, it is purely a system error. Create a new one.

Hard Conversation

Racism is a difficult conversation. It is difficult at the water cooler, even more the boardroom. This is understandable. The subject is populated with land mines at every turn. Yet, the most destructive land mind of all is silence.

We are living in an age of extreme change. Millennials have entered the work force bringing with them a variant view on race. No longer can companies leverage the style, language, music and swag of Black Americans—a marginalized group that generates corporate margins.

Your company must now reflect equality in your ranks of power. A reflection so large it causes every department to measure against its image.

No More Tolerance

The term “tolerance” has a medical connotation of accepting a foreign body into a reluctant host. While the term “organic” implies a natural part of an original design. How do we move from tolerating differences to designing a model where differences are sought from the beginning? This takes intention.

How intentional are you? How intentional is your boardroom? How intentional is your marketing?

Pesticide of Our Day

Environmental stewardship effects the brand integrity of every Fortune 500 company. Ecology is economics. Reluctant adaptors to the planetary cause, now participate in a shared mission. And this nudges a blueprint for the racial work to be done in corporate America.

Today’s momentum toward zero carbon emissions, sustainable materials and LEED certified building—started in a book. Written by Rachel Carson, “Silent Sprint,” published in 1962, warned the world, of the world to come if society did not curb the use of pesticides.

Racism is the pesticide of our day. Nothing is better after feeling its touch. Structures must be put in place to defeat its decay on our future. This is the new planetary cause.

Where is the globally recognized ranking system for whether a corporation adheres to racial stewardship? What is the LEED certified equivalent of “opportunity compliance” for the historically marginalized?

How a company manages race from this point forward, will greatly effect its economic health. The conversation for a global corporate protocol must begin. A new shared commitment, a new Kyoto—encouraging all to eradicate not just American racism, but racism.