This is a guest post by Chris Cardiff. In Chris's words he, "struggles to teach and apply MBM as a member of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation MBM team."
Super Bowl XVIII initially went into the record books as the greatest blowout in Super Bowl history, with the Los Angeles Raiders defeating the Washington Redskins 38-9. While this record only stood for a couple of years, 22 years later an ad that ran in the third quarter of that game was voted the "Best Super Bowl Spot" in the 40 year history of the game.
1984 was the year Super Bowl XVIII took place. 1984 is also the title of the ad, evoking the classic novel by George Orwell of a dystopian future, where Big Brother controls all aspects of the lives of individuals. The ad features drone-like citizens, all dressed alike, listening hypnotically to a giant screen version of Big Brother telling them what to think. Our protagonist in the ad is a young woman being pursued by prototypical jack-booted government thugs. Famed director Ridley Scott directed the ad; those familiar with the dark overtones of his work on Alien and Blade Runner won't be surprised at how quickly he portrays a dystopian mood in this sixty-second ad.
However, unlike the novel, the ad has a much more hopeful ending:
Yes, in this version of 1984, the individual is triumphant over the all-powerful state, freeing the citizens in thrall to it. Apple directly connects this society level theme to the creative destruction of the marketplace, with the introduction of the Macintosh computer. In a mere 60 seconds, Ridley Scott tells a story that brilliantly captures the intersection between society and individual achievement, freedom and innovation, dystopia and prosperity.
Subsequent events underscored this creative destruction theme. Big Brother, in the ad, originally symbolized IBM; today, after IBM's near-death experience in the 1990s, few people recall what a dominant presence IBM was in the personal computer market at the time. Viewers watching the ad for the first time in later years assumed Big Brother was Microsoft; now we find Microsoft struggling to find its footing in the marketplace. And iconically, in 2004, twenty years after the original, Apple released a new version of the ad. It was almost exactly the same, but if you look closely you can see our heroine now sports an iPod.
Events also proved more hopeful than Orwell's novel. Rather than lapsing into a totalitarian state, the 1980s began with the Thatcher and Reagan "revolutions" in the U.K. and U.S. The 1980s culminated in real revolutions in many communist countries, best symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Reality has proven more hopeful than Orwell's fiction. His influential cautionary tale undoubtedly played some role in these encouraging changes.
We need to continually ask ourselves: what conditions, public policies, and "rules of the game" best encourage principled entrepreneurial activities that lead to these kinds of innovations? The five dimensions provide a pretty good roadmap to answering this question for both society and organizations.
Thanks to Chris for his contribution. If you'd like to submit a guest post for potential publication on this blog, please email drafts to Ann at ann.zerkle (at) cgkfoundation.org.