A Salute to 1776

Another update from the Jungle…

Back in the days before air conditioning, the founders of our country met in Philadelphia at Carpenter’s Hall (also called Independence Hall).  They were afraid their discussions would be overheard so they closed all the windows and sat every day in a hot room with no air circulation.

unnamedThe men who met at Philadelphia that summer of 1776 were planning a revolution.  They didn’t start out with that goal. Originally they wanted to tinker with the existing political and economic system to make it work better for them.  (This isn’t a tale of altruism; it’s a tale about businessmen who wanted capitalism to work for them.)

Today we call this type of gathering an executive retreat. A company’s senior management team gets together and tries to figure out how to tweak their company’s products or services to gain market share and make a profit. Occasionally the management team realizes that tinkering with the status quo isn’t good enough. They need radical change.

That’s what happened at Philadelphia. Those men decided they needed a revolution and issued the Declaration of Independence. They didn’t get everything right. They ignored women. They failed to end slavery. They never even considered the rights of Native Americans.  But for all that they got wrong, they got a lot of things right. They revolutionized citizen expectations: non-responsive governments will be replaced.

Those expectations apply to companies too. Companies or their managers are replaced when they can’t deliver a product or service that customers want to buy. Unhappy employees vote with their feet and leave.

After a long hot day the Philadelphia men would unwind at nearby taverns. They’d quaff some ale or beer, listen to some music, and talk about their favorite sports.  They didn’t have designated drivers in those days, but a man who imbibed too much had to worry about slipping on the cobblestones on the way back to his hotel room.

So on this July 4th weekend, raise a glass of your favorite adult beverage to salute the Spirit of 1776.  We enjoy so many things today because a group of men were willing to sit in a hot room to plot a revolution.

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