Understanding the Virtues of Meritocracy via Brazil

This wise nugget courtesy of Kishore Mahbubani on page 67 of his new book which I will be reviewing shortly:

The simplest way of understanding the virtues of meritocracy is to ask the question: why is Brazil a soccer superpower and an economic middle power? The answer is that when it looks for soccer talent, it searches for it in all sectors of the population, from upper classes to the slums. A boy from the slums is not discriminated against if he has soccer talent. But in the economic field, Brazil looks for talent in a far smaller base of the population, primarily the upper and middle classes.

A similar point could be made around other types of discrimination (not just class based). With a seriously sexist business culture, Japan is effectively ignoring the potential creative contributions of 50% of its population.

And a corporate level…good companies cull ideas from all levels of the organization. Lou Gerstner at IBM famously encouraged employees at the bottom to submit ideas or proposals for corporate action. Let the best idea win, no matter who it comes from.

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