The organizational structure you put people in has a huge bearing on how they perform.
If a person is in a small town, they'll act differently than a large city.
It's not that they'll consciously choose different options, per se - instead, they'll naturally have different stimuli.
Add in different constraints and incentives, and you get very different behavior.
Why did the Romans conquer so much?
Largely because they were incredibly aggressive. The Roman Republic / Principate / Empire was basically almost always at war.
But, I seriously doubt that individuals Romans were so much more aggressive than their neighbors in Antiquity.
Rather, Roman Consuls -- commanders -- were elected for a term of one year.
They were expected to make their name for themselves in that year, so they immediately set out on a fast pace of battles.
What happened 14 months forwards was far less relevant than the next 12 months. A lot of traditional "conservation of energy" type principles would be thrown off.
And, of course, there was constant honeymoon periods -- less cynicism and exhaustion. A man elected to consul would be at peak excitement, energy level, and feeling triumphant going into battle, which would have a huge effect on moral factors.
The structure, in this case, determined the aggression. By appreciating glory and having short terms of election for military commanders, constant warfare was almost guaranteed.
So Rome was basically the Silicon Valley of ancient warring states, with huge incentives for "entrepreneurship"? Pretty cool insight :)
Would you agree that shortening the election term for our leaders would make things better?
I think that's true for the same reason you outlined in the article: they would have less time to prove themselves and so would do things that would have the most impact right away, instead of pissing off 3 years, then realizing they need to actually do something.
Pretty much everyone I talked to says that they should extend the election period, because the politicians don't have enough time to do anything meaningful (obviously, I think that's BS).
What do you think about this? Thanks!
I read about the rise of the Medici family recently. The Medicis are remembered as the founders of one of the first international banks, but most of the stuff they did wasn't innovative -- they were mostly doing the same kind of things as previous banks.
What they did innovate on was the corporate structure -- each city branch was ran as a quasi-separate entity, with separate P&L responsibility. That made sure local managers were incentivised to be diligent and prudent. That's cited as one of the things that allowed them to spread across Europe when other banks doing very similar things failed (and when that structure broke down in the late 1400s, the bank started to fall down, too).
My guess is that If you want to build an extensive empire, structure it in such way that the commanders will want to be as expansive as possible.
If you do a tour in Rome, you'll notice the guides often refer to the Roman education as the defining factor that decided victory. Apparently, education of the masses at that time was quite revolutionary, and quite an advantage.
I'm listening to The Commentaries of Julius Caesar on audio right now. Some thoughts on the book:
1. This is the second time I've gone through the book, and it's much more understandable. The book is hard to fully grasp without background.
Caesar is an immensely clear writer, but there's 10,000 things left unsaid in his book. If you don't understand the background of his life, and the general scope and plan he had -- and the general machinations of Roman society -- then a lot of actions don't make as much sense.
I've gone through enough Roman history now that I understand the backstory about how Roman politics and military works -- tribunes, consuls, governors, the immunity to prosecution while in office yet retroactive liability to prosecution after leaving office, how the various Popularii leaders had been executed or murdered, how indebted most of the aristocratic politicians became to run for office, the state of the equestrian class, troop makeup, etc.
To really get the most out of the book, you need to know something of the political and financial situation of Caesar, his men, and their general political party. It's a good read without that, but a fantastic read with it.
I'm sitting by a crackling fire at my aunt and uncle's house in New Jersey and we're just a couple hours into the new year, which means that it's a perfect time to review the year and look forward.
If I were to title my year, I'd call it the year I got serious. Something interesting happened near the end of 2011-- I realized that I wasn't actually on track for a lot of my goals, that I was going to have to actually get serious about stuff, and that this seriousness had to come in the form of action, not talk. I ended 2011 with a few months of solid productivity under my belt, and a year-end post that optimistically predicted a productive year.
I'm happy to say that the productive year materialized, and that my focus on getting serious has intensified.
When I was young, maybe third grade or so, a psychologist did a study at my middle school. We answered some questions and were offered two choices: a small prize now or a large prize later. I took the small prize now. I think knew it was the wrong move at the time, but the pack of stickers on the table looked like a lot of fun. Later on the big prizes were given to the waiters in such a way that I was able to see what they got. Sure enough, their prizes were a lot better and my stickers were long gone.