Daily Archives: March 3, 2017

What is global history now?

By Jeremy Adelman – To understand what global history was, it helps to understand what it was supposed to eclipse.

It used to be that, in the US, history departments had their cores in American and/or European fields; in Canada, Australia and Britain, the nuclei were also national. History meant the history of the nation, its peoples and their origins. When social and cultural history came along, it changed the subject from presidents or prime ministers to Hollywood or garment workers. But the framework remained mostly national; historians still wrote books about the making of the English working class, or the conversion of peasants into French citizens. There might be a smattering of East Asian or Latin American historians in the mix.

Often, they were cordoned into regional studies units, or lumped – as in my home department at Princeton – as ‘non-Western historians’, defined by their fundamental difference, there to embellish but not challenge the national canon.

By the 1980s, it was no longer foregone that the Rest was synonymous with decline, or the West with rise. The Rest, to some, became the new threat to define the purpose of the West.

No sooner did historians catch the glottalization wave with fancy new courses, magazines, textbooks and attention, than the wave seemed to collapse. The story changed. A powerful political movement arose against ‘globalism’. White-supremacists and Vladimir Putin fans from the Traditionalist Worker Party in the US proclaim as their slogan that ‘Globalism is the poison, nationalism is the antidote.’ Donald Trump put it only a bit more mildly. ‘Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,’ he thundered to cheering Republicans in his convention speech in July 2016. more> https://goo.gl/OAj1lI

Exponential growth devours and corrupts

By David Heinemeier Hansson – It’s through this exponential lens that eating the world becomes not just a motto for software at large, but a mission for every aspiring unicorn and their business model. “Going viral” suddenly takes on a shockingly honest and surprisingly literal meaning.

The goal of the virus is to spread as fast as it can and corrupt as many other cells as possible. How on earth did such a debauched zest become the highest calling for a whole generation of entrepreneurs?

It used to be that successful, upcoming companies would show a prudent mix of present-day profits and future prospects, but such a mix is now considered old-fashioned and best forgotten. Now it’s all potential, all the time.

Because the core assumption is that growth is always good, growth is always unlimited, and if you’re not growing you’re dying. Swim or sink, no wading.

Which is why growth is now everything and residual value is nothing. In fact, the latter can be outright harmful to the former. When you’re being priced on the hopes and dreams of potential, reality can be a dangerous and undesired competitor. Best just to appeal to the exponential curve and let the imagination roam free. An epic capital gains score awaits! more> https://goo.gl/HWN3au

Updates from GE

Honey, I Shrunk The Contract: How Plain English Is Helping GE Keep Its Business Humming
By Kristin Kloberdanz – When GE Aviation combined its three digital businesses into a single Digital Solutions unit nearly four years ago, their salespeople were eager to speed up the growth they had seen in the years before the move. They found plenty of enthusiastic customers, but they struggled to close their deals.

The reason: Customers often needed to review and sign contracts more than 100 pages long before they could start doing business.

The new business inherited seven different contracts from the three units. The clunky documents were loaded with legalese, redundancies, archaic words and wordy attempts to cover every imaginable legal. No wonder they languished unread for months. “We would call, and customers would say, ‘I can’t get through this,'” says Karen Thompson, Digital Solutions contracts leader at GE Aviation. “And that was before they even sent it to their legal team! Who is going to pick up a 100-plus-page document and sort through it to find language they disagree with? We were having trouble moving past that part to what we needed to do, which was sell our services.”

For those customers who did read the contract, negotiations would drag on and on.

That’s when Shawn Burton, Digital Solutions’ general counsel at the time, aided by a squadron of intrepid employees spread across GE, decided to deploy a disruptive and unconventional contract weapon: plain speak. Burton harked back to his law school days when he studied Plain Language, a way to condense the written word to the clear basics. He dusted off his textbooks and, with the help of his GE language commandos, used it to write a new contract. “I applied a litmus test: If someone in high school couldn’t pick this up and understand it without any context, it wasn’t plain enough,” he says.

Burton then launched a Plain Language workshop for his team where he actually dropped the old contract into a garbage can with a satisfying thud. more> https://goo.gl/HZwpno

A Battle Plan for Mexico’s U.S. Trade War

By Alejandro Silva & Alejandro Urbina – An optimal negotiation is one in which both parties extract as much value for their own interest as possible without fundamentally damaging the other party’s position.

While Mexico’s interests remain aligned with a continuation of trade with the U.S., Trump’s unconstructive rhetoric has made it harder to create any kind of win-win framework. Not only did Trump campaign on the idea that trade with Mexico has hurt U.S. manufacturing jobs, he has refused to deal seriously with complex topics such as the nature of globalization, the pace of technological advances and the impact on production costs from unionized labor.

This approach helped to build political capital among his more populist base, but it ignored the challenges involved in detangling the decades-long trade ties and cast a pall over any future negotiations.

A trade war between the U.S. and Mexico would be in neither side’s interest. more> https://goo.gl/i0Vtv4