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The Cuckoo Problem

The cuckoo has always been a great metaphor. Lay your egg in somebody else’s nest and let them do them do the hardwork of upbringing until the chick is ready to fly.

It is, at its simplest, the investment banking model. Invest, grow and IPO for highly concentrated gains, excluding of course those who have done the real work of creating the conditions for the IPO.

At this moment, the European Super League is a gift that just keeps on taking, and perhaps the biggest cuckoo on the block. We take a game born in villages and shaped by fans, and turn it, in a few decades into a business where the owners have absolutely no interest in the game other than as a nest for their financial offspring, and the farce of it is that the motivation behind it is the need to keep feeding their voracious children. What other business I wonder, faced with huge declines in revenue, maintains it’s bloated business model?

The cuckoo is a short term visitor and is in decline, driven mainly by lack of food in its normal habitats, and changes in climate that affect the short period of time it is able to feed. Perhaps our business cuckoos should take note. In the end, football is a game, playable by anyone for the sheer pleasure of it. There is a vicarious pleasure to be had in watching others play it really well, but at what point I wonder did watching beat playing?

The same is true of most corporate businesses, particularly those who feed off the commons – energy, utilities, healthcare and the like. The nests of those who actually do the work are increasingly occupied by those who watch and advise and charge huge premiums, but have no real investment or interest in the outcome , including increasingly transient CXO’s They get their money regardless.

It’s time for us to take back our games, whatever they may be. We may play the game less well, but if we get enjoyment, satisfaction, and sense of community and an adequate (rather than outrageous) income, how important is that?

I recognise this is hopelessly idealistic, whilst at the same time understand the answer, in some form is in our own hands.

The cuckoo is an attractive bird, which is very good at looking after its own interests at the expense of others.

Maybe we just need to get better at recognising the cuckoos in our own nests, and stop feeding them.

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Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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