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Whining about Uncertainty

Think Different - Uncertainty

(I know the picture is not a good picture but squint your eyes and pretend it’s him.)

An article last week in Business Insider provided some quotes from Jamie Dimon’s letter to shareholders which basically told whining executives to deal with uncertainty. It was interesting to read about a financial executive saying business is always and will always be uncertain. Financial types are not prone to walk on the wild side and are generally regarded as naysayers so to read Jamie Dimon castigating other executives for their timidity is rather interesting.

The outcome of such timidity, according to his letter which Business Insider reproduced, and which I’ll paraphrase, and add:

1) Companies are sitting on excess cash rather than making capital investment. Capital investments drive the engines of growth and jobs. No spending means no growth, no jobs and lowered customer demands. A not so pretty cycle companies got themselves into.

2) Rating companies are adding fuel to the fire by being much tougher on ratings. The pendulum has swung the other way to make up for their lack of standards before 2008 but that doesn’t mean they have improved.

3) Despite all of the exhortations to be creative/innovative/or whatever the word du jour is, failure is not appreciated outside of Silicon Valley. Game changing ideas do not come out of established companies. Think Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks – they all started out of the proverbial garage. Apple may be the only one defying that trend. The shareholder mantra may be the problem here; big companies that have to answer to shareholders generally don’t push outside of the box. They can’t take risks or shareholders will slam them. (Neither Business Insider nor Jamie Dimon talks about shareholders; that part is my theory.)

4) Companies are not hiring because they are looking for the perfect hire – the one who walks on water. They are not taking a chance on someone who may not have all of the skills and so they wait and wait and wait. (Again, neither Business Insider nor Jamie Dimon talks about this one either.)

In late 90’s or early 2000’s, there was a great saying, “You can’t shrink to greatness”, that applies here. If you are not going to make investments, or hire that non-perfect person, or try and experiment with new ideas, then don’t expect anything phenomenal to come out in a few years. You will be the same as you were a couple of years ago, meanwhile, the world will have passed you by.



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