Roger Martin is an unlikely revolutionary: He is the dean of the Rotman School of Management, the business school at the University of Toronto, he sits on blue-chip corporate boards, and he has worked as a consultant for big, traditional companies like Procter & Gamble and General Motors. All in all, very much the résumé of a pillar of the corporate establishment. (Disclosure: I am a member of the Rotman School’s advisory board.)
But this month, Martin has published a book whose gentle tone belies its seditious content. Here’s what is radical about Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes and What Capitalism Can Learn From the N.F.L.: Instead of asking how businesses can organize themselves to be more effective and more profitable for their shareholders, Martin wants to figure out how society should organize business to be more effective for all of us.
The corporate intelligentsia — business school professors, management consultants and many of us scribblers and squawkers of the business press — focus nearly all of their attention on the first question. That is a perfectly worthy subject. Indeed, the huge and continuing improvements in business productivity over the past 200 years have made more of us richer and healthier than human beings of the previous two millennia could have imagined.