HUMANITY’S LUCKY CLOVER – A History of Discoveries, Technologies, Competition and Wealth
Author: Vadim Makhov
Review by: Graham White
I enjoy many things in life, but reading will always remain very close to the top of my list. The reason is simple, reading gives you the opportunity to see life through the eyes of others or as George RR Martin the acclaimed fantasy novelist behind Game of Thrones once said “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies….. the man who never reads lives only one.”.
Until very recently every book I opened whether fact or fiction created within me an emotion. Sometimes intrigue or amazement, other times joy and amusement and sometimes anger and occasionally disbelief. However, having now read Humanity’s Lucky Clover” by Vadim Makhov from cover to cover twice I have finally found the book that compels me to have all these emotions and many more all at once. This fascinating read is a must for all curious business minds who are willing to suspend their current values and explore and re-understand the complex world around us. Marat Atnashev the Dean of the Moscow school of Management went as far as to say that the book will take the reader on a “cross-disciplinary intellectual adventure where concepts from economics, natural sciences, and history are merged together to develop an authentic model of social, technological, and economic innovation”. I can’t beat that description, but I can ensure the reader that as they turn the pages of this stimulating and challenging publication they will open a treasure trove of significant and detailed analysis that comes from research developed from what appears to be an amazingly wide factual base.
Having never read anything from this author prior to this I opened this book that had a sub title of “A history of discoveries, technologies, competition and wealth” with the assumption I was setting out on another well planned journey of adventure listening to the writer take me on a historical tour of previous entrepreneurs and business moguls and how their experiences would help me in my own life adventures giving me a captivating read with plenty of original vignettes and page after page of anecdotes and enjoyable stories. I could not have been more wrong. I read the book from cover to cover twice before I felt I could honestly say I took it in and could put pen to paper. I do not yet believe I truly get all of what the book is saying. Whilst reading this publication I have experienced every emotion possible from incredulity to adoration as my mind went into tailspin reading and re-reading the logic and the formation of ideas in each chapter of this book. Readers of this book are very likely to discover they can’t just like it or dislike it and they won’t be able to simply believe of reject it. From even the Forward by Professor Andrew Kakabadse you are already feeling the challenge and the enquiry building in your mind. Professor Kakabadse says the book is a “remarkable capturing of knowledge, leading to guidelines on how to conduct our future” However he too is not void of differing emotions when he states that the “strengths of the book greatly outweigh its weaknesses” but I will leave it to you to determine which is which.
You don’t need to be a historian to enjoy looking back at the past but with the millennial++ generations attempting to rewrite it whether we want them to or not, this is probably a good time to look before it disappear into a time when freedom of conscience is no longer allowed. However, do not be fooled into thinking this is all you will find in this amazing book. In its two hundred plus pages you will find the results of Makhov’s voracious research and intellectual discoveries of the past that will open your eyes and mind to a new perspective on the achievements of humanity from the emergence of intelligent life to this exciting new age of technology and beyond into areas that I am not sure I yet fully understand or want to accept.
From Darwin to Dawkins the book takes you on an undulating journey through evolution from the selfish gene theory to the current unimaginable levels of creative human thinking. From the Big bang to what the writer is calling the creative Classes the book provides clues to the conditions required for achieving success through innovative developments such as global financial colonisation. Furthermore, the book exposes captivating insights into all spheres of human life which when brought together within what the writer calls the four leaves of the clover it produces a tool that both looks back on the past and its influence and a look forward to the future and what awaits us. From evolution to the future of society this book opens your thinking in ways that would not happen unless triggered by the analysis and conclusions it presents to you. Creating a new sphere of thinking and logic where our future, tomorrows innovations, the economy, and the potential for meteoric change in the social climate are all featured as co-equal in the recipe of future success this book has the potential to be a living map.
For fear of spoiling this great read I do not intend revealing the unending flow of new thinking coming out of this book. The writer’s logic and reasoning divulged in a very carefully developed piece of writing and to try and do this in a short review would only spoil it. Notwithstanding this, if you want a pointer to its intellectual treasures I suggest you read the first paragraph of Dicken’s tale of two cities and ponder what the “best of times” and the “worst of times” really means. However, it would be amiss of me not to tantalise you with a brief description of how Humanity’s Lucky Clover cocoons your thinking within the graphic picture of a four-leaf clover. The model takes as its core the philosophy that our economy is in perpetual motion revolving around the creators of profit who change unendingly as todays innovation becomes tomorrows antiquity. The book exposes a view that the desire and appetite for “newness” is the economic essence of innovation and innovation is the key to continuous improvement. It forewarns that pass success is no guarantee of future proofing for any organisation. Revitalising the concept of “creative destruction” first formulated by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 this book develops further the concept of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionises the economic structure of organisations, societies and countries by relentlessly creating new on the pyres of the old.
Using history as a wide source of empirical evidence the book uncovers repeated examples of when old business structures fall into ruin new more innovative ones miraculously and often instantly replace them. Makhov’s fealty to the development of this philosophy goes even further looking at why some states and societies thrive, and others don’t. Looking at all parts of the world we can see societies such as Mayan and Lydian that appeared to go from great success to extinction with little clarity as the cause while others never reach maturity.
As you get past the forward and introduction of this book you can’t help thinking if this logic is correct then what awaits us in the future? In a profound way you feel much of the reasoning and rationale is so credible that you can’t wait to turn the next page to get some more insight into the possibility that having discovered and mapped out the journey to date could this book go further and produce a universal model that would deliver a handbook of success for the future. The author believes that this is already in place and if we carry out detailed and careful analysis of the past using his lucky clover model we will create a pointer that will guide our way to an even greater future.
The proposition is straightforward, if we take his four critical elements – science, society, innovation and wealth and ensure they are present, interacting and developing simultaneously then success is a guaranteed outcome. In defence of this claim the book is the culmination of hundreds of studies, a myriad of sources and a very detailed exercise to scrutinise the tangled intricacies that we call history. By cross references the very interesting correlations between various events and phenomena spanning many centuries, the author points to how, through careful analysis of the past, anyone has the potential to detect, and identify the right path to success.
As I outlined at the beginning of this book review this publication comes with firm views and strong opinions that are predicated on everything from detailed academic research to brutal common sense. With an impressive fourteen pages of Notes and Further Reading the book concludes with an impressive collection of knowledge, ideas, and common sense that is very carefully collated and presented in a manner that makes this both a future reference book along with a very interesting, challenging and enjoyable read.
A very carefully written book I found it very hard to put down. It is also very well laid out and contains some beautiful and interesting illustrations which add to the overall mystic the book creates. This book will undoubtedly become a firm favourite for those undertaking further studies and research, but I also believe this book should take pride of place in the book cases of everyone who cares about the future and wants to take an active part in shaping it and ensuring its continued success.
Graham White, Retired HR Director