In memory of Peter Blake

Giancarlo Livraghi – December 15, 2001

Peter Blake

Peter Blake was murdered on December 6, 2001 in Macapà, Amazon. He wasn’t only a famous winner of the America’s Cup, but also a great sailor in the open seas – and he had other human qualities, including a keen interest in the environment.

I have a personal reason for admiring him – my love for the sea and sailing. But there are two lessons worth learning that are related to the subject of my books and articles on comminication and marketing – as well as to The Power of Stupidity.

Pirates aren’t just a memory of the past. They exist today (and not only in remote places). They are not romantic heroes. They are brutal criminals, ruthless murderers

To use the definition “pirate” in any other context isn’t just an abuse of language (and a insult to victims). It’s a deliberately dirty trick. It makes no sense to call someone a “pirate” just because he or she is using a piece of software, or listening to music, without paying fees to some greedy provider of technology or entertainment.

It can be debatable if doing so is a violation of a valid contract. But in any case it’s nonsensical that it be treated legally as a crime (in some countries, including my own, the thteatened penalties are almost as severe as those for murder).

A different lesson comes from the experience of the America’s Cup. The New Zealand team was unbeatable. Not only because of the superior performance of their boats, but even more importantly because of the way their crew worked. There was total harmony in every detail.

Everyone understood everything. From the beginning of the project, every detail of the equipment had been designed by people working in close symbiosis with the people who were going to use it.

Even before Peter Blake was murdered, that very special team was being disrupted and dismembered by rivals enticing people away (mostly with money). This sort of thing happens in many organizations. When “quality circles” are almost magically generated extraordinary results are achieved. But they are not always allowed to survive.

With so many mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and reorganizing, human resources are often sacrificed. The result is deterioration of quality, loss of motivation, waste of talent and experience. This is a serious problem in all human activities – and especially so in the turbulent evolution of new technologies.



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