Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Less is more

27 December 2014

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Many years ago a colleague gave me some feedback on my work by saying “Less is more”. He couldn’t have been more right.

Basically this expression has a universal truth. The more you eat / drink / have / own in life, the less pleasure (or: added value) you have of the newest addition. This is probably also why cleaning your closets, house – or mind for that matter – gives a good feeling.

Less is more is the total opposite of the daily messages we receive in life. More is better is what we hear and see all the time. Given an ever expanding global population, we indeed need to have more (e.g., output, prosperity) if everyone wants to retain the same.

Lately I have been deriving my greatest pleasure in gaining additional knowledge. Apart from this blog, it is quite difficult to show off this additional knowledge unlike showing a new car, house or suit and tie to your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

Knowledge seems to be in poor demand nowadays. Young and cheap is in high demand. At times it seems that less knowledge is more and ignorance is bliss.

One of the greatest improvements in the corporate world is the 2nd P in People, Planet and Profit. Unfortunately, the 1st P has suffered.

Currently, most employment schemes are still based on an implicit “up or out” system. Once out, accumulative knowledge is out too. It is not only legacy knowledge that is out. It is also the tricks how to quickly extinguish forrest fires and the like.

Some time ago, The Economist featured an article about how elderly German employees teach new apprentices. This system is quite ancient (i.e. Middle Ages) and is known in various European countries. Once the apprentice knows the trade he becomes a Master who will train new apprentices himself. And so the cycle continues.

In my view, the (un)employment solution is not in working full time hours until 67 (or 70 in 5-10 years time). The solution lies in the ancient Master system. Elderly people need to transfer their accumulative knowledge and experience to apprentices and coach them to become a Master themselves. In trade, in manufacturing, in every line of business. Such a transfer does not require a full time job. The number of working hours should decrease over the years in order to maintain a sustainable balance between health, private life and work. Obviously, the renumeration should also decrease which should not matter too much as it is better to be employed than unemployed.

The Government could well use fiscal stimuli to decrease the labour cost of elderly people. This would and should also compensate for significantly lower salaries. This approach is much more sustainable than granting more and more unemployment benefits to an ageing population.

It is time to create a better balance between the 3 P’s (People, Planet and Profit).

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