Anything New Under the Sun?

♫ What’s new pussycat? Woah, Woah…♫

Words and music by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, recorded by Tom Jones.

My old Law School Dean Edwards (Manitoba) used to continually say to us: “Nothing is really new under the Sun”.

I suppose he was trying to give us a sense of perspective in the law – to acquire a gently skeptical eye towards ‘new’ ideas and learn to gauge things relative to their place in the history of things.

With this in mind, I was reflecting on the recent economic meltdown ..and wondering…what would Dean Edwards have thought? Accordingly I went searching..and found: “Ancient Chinese Theories of Control” by Violina P. Rindova, New York University and William H. Starbuck, New York University, published in the Journal of Management Inquiry, 1997, 6: 144-159.

It is illustrative.

For example, I am a huge fan of Steven Covey of the 7 Habits books. One of Steven’s most important statements is: “Begin with the End in Mind”. Well, E Yin, a Chinese Prime Minister in about 1700 BCE said: “Be careful to think about the end at the beginning.’

We have come to a point where the leaders in industry have precipitated a world-wide crises. Perhaps we would have been better served if they had followed the advice of Confucius who said: “Leadership is a matter of correctness. If you lead by going down a correct path yourself, who will dare to take an incorrect one?”

We are launching into new programs and new spending to try to correct our current economic and social maladies. I only hope that our leaders take a moment and reflect on what they are proposing and listen to the voices and lessons of the past…and heed Dean Edward’s advice – since nothing really seems to be new under the sun.

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