The self-interest dilemma


A few days ago I was asked what was at the back of my mind that was a major concern. Of course there are concerns that are front of mind and I am used to airing those. But what was back of mind? From nowhere popped “self-interest” and the more I thought about it the more I realized that the things that irk me the most are those that are guided by self-interest.

Self interest is an insidious side of the human condition: perhaps that why we celebrate and reward selfless acts of bravery and charity. As I watched events unfold in Tunis and Cairo and Tripoli and Bahrain and Damascus I see the overthrowing of one form of self-interest: but is it being replaced by just another? Time, of course, will tell.

At home we see our leaders try to move our society forward while their opponents reign them back … until it is their turn to change things and be held back the former reformers. We see our leaders handicapped by having to come down on one polarized side or the other polarized side of issues and never being able to equivocate, balance and temper their opinion.

It seems to me that self-interest in our society is a counter evolutionary force. What is the desperate drive to hang on to the status quo? Change is in our nature. Yet we find despots in our dorms, dictators in our diners, tyrants at the take-away and martinets at the market. All hell-bent on doing it their way and grasping all the power they can and for what reason?

Are they so dependent on special-interest (marketing speak for self-interest) groups? Is their position, rank and title as “leader” more important than them being a leader? Why is the control of power for oneself more important that the exercising of power for the good of all? Why do they ask the other side to sacrifice for fear of alienating their side.

I’ll gladly pay more taxes, give up liberties, be held to a higher standard in exchange for peace, security and safety. I am the 1%.

Where are the leaders? Where are the people that inspire us to do something differently even though the majority of us are opposed to it? I’m not going to invoke the sainted names of presidents and paupers of the past – you and I know who they are – I want to know where are today’s leaders who will stand up and say what is true, what is wrong, what needs to change and why I should pay the personal price.

Where are they?

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About Kevin

In the past year Kevin has spoken at 20 conferences and seminars on a range of leading IT topics, including methodologies, business analysis, quality assurance techniques, governance, open source issues, tool interoperability, from the mainframe to distributed platforms to the web and mobile and embedded systems. He is a much sought after speaker, recognized around the world for his provocative and entertaining style. Kevin is a 30 year industry veteran, holder of three technology patents and today is VP and Chief Evangelist at leading Application Development vendor Serena Software. He started his career as a software developer and rose to lead the engineering team as VP of R&D at Serena Software, a role he held for 8 years. In the past five years he has been crossing the globe and has met with over 4,000 people. At Serena he works closely with industry analysts, the press, customers, partners and employees to exchange ideas about industry direction and business issues. Today he is leading the Value Engineering initiative at Serena bringing measurable benefits to their customers. He was born and educated in the UK and lives on a boat on the San Francisco Bay and works in Redwood City California.
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