vrijdag 8 juni 2012

Are you buying what you want to buy?

Something that's on my mind and is influencing my sculptures.... big corporations and the way they work. A lot of my work is about how we value things in life and especially how this is related to our consumption. We don't ask to many questions when we buy our things and we really need to think more about what is important.
Below I have focussed on the flawed system that determines how we value things. Modern marketing has filled the gap religion left on how we value things and has now a monopoly.

Marketing Menace
These days you have big companies, that can fool people in a sophisticated way. Their clever marketeers tell you a story using the right words that build up associations that make you buy their product. No your not stupid, they have big marketing departments with highly educated people who are working full time to make you buy their products! They always try to stay just within the laws/rules, but still leave you with a feeling of 'this is unfair'.

Failing Feedback
If you do notice that they are playing with you and want to tell this....then there is an employee that says: 'Computer says noooooo...' Only the very persisted customer might get his or her boss, but with the feeling that nothing will change, so why bother next time? This corrupts the feedback system and with the quantity and quality of feedback being less, they have created an environment where it has become normal to treat customers like this. I even think that employees would protest less based on their own ethics because they are used to it as a customer and probably find it normal. Especially when the pay is very low, they tent to hire people who wouldn't care less about your customer experience.
This all creates a culture of bad customer experiences.

Market democracy?
I have always thought of the open market as a sort of democracy in which you voted for good companies by buying their products, with the exception of banks and insurers whose products are vague and difficult to compare. I would now add a lot more to it. With their sophisticated market and problematic feedback system it is really hard to vote well. This is very important, because now we only notice at the very last moment when big companies do something bad. Some companies are so big, there is a lot going on, that we  can't know what they are all up to...... until BP spills oil for example. They are even lobbying to get things organised in their favour.

Local more vocal?
People sometimes don't like villages because the social control is limiting their freedom. Yes, in villages the village community dictates the morals and ethics and that can feel a bit limiting, but they prevent what they think is wrong. A small shop in a villages doesn't have the money for sophisticated marketing. If an owner of a small local shop is fooling it's customers, the customers would tell him personally and that has a lot bigger effect, because he would either be shouted at in the street or feel it in his pocket. So, yes villages and small local shops would solve this issue, but turning back the clock would be more difficult. What can we learn from this village mechanism?

Who is Simons?
I am not a big fan of more rules or laws, they are pointless. People will always find a way around them. We have to create modern version of villages or small groups that test each others ethics. I would suggest your inner circle; friends and family. We need to learn again to give feedback to people when we think something is wrong. Simons, a important author on management and accounting, created a model about four levers of control. One of them is the importance of a belief system to keep things in control. That is what we need! With the decreasing influence of religion as a vehicle for morals and ethics, not always executed in the wright way, we need something to restore the checks and balances. If CEO's can't or won't do it, we need to be doing it where we can. I hope you will try to influence your friends if you spot unethical work behaviour when they are bragging about something unethical they did!

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