Back in the dotcom days, there was an awful lot of “momentum investing”
where a stock was seen as valuable because of its rate of gain in
value. Sort of like being famous for being well-known.
And yet there were some solid Internet companies, such as Ebay and
Amazon, with models that would prove lastingly valuable to our society.
The Dean campaign is no longer a momentum play. Momentum
investors are going to go toward Kerry, or stay with the ultimate
momentum stock, George W. Bush.
The Dean campaign, meanwhile, is now either going to become a solid
contributor to our political landscape and
society–bringing real value and a return to investors who want to make a difference,
or the campaign will wither away.
Momentum companies get into a trap. When they tell good news,
their momentum increases. So they tend to tell more and more good
news. And when momentum companies tell bad news, their momentum
declines. So they tend to tell less and less bad news.
The problem with telling only good news is that it severs your
connection with your true investors–those who believe that your
underlying model adds value to society, and is worth investing in for
the long term. Worse, it tends to sever your connection with
yourself. Momentum companies start to believe their own hype,
avoid bad news–and as a result, their organizational learning is
And companies with impaired organizational learning don’t last long in fast-changing markets.
The marketplace of political ideas is the fastest moving marketplace in
which I have ever personally participated. This week, this day,
feels different from last week, and from yesterday.
Organizational learning is paramount.
So what does this mean for the Dean campaign? We have been criticised
of late by our supporters for not telling the news, bad as well as
good. Supporters feel betrayed when they are told things are
fine, and then find out otherwise when the votes come in. “We
could have helped” they say in distress, “but you didn’t really ask us!”
Truth and learning is vital–as an organization and as an extended
community. Learning must be built into our
values, our practices, and our information and Internet systems.
We need to get the feedback going with our marketplace–a marketplace
that truly wants us to exist, and has many many ways to help.