Amid Economic Confusion, Press On
On his return from Davos, George F Colony, the Founder and CEO of Forrester Research and a voice that commands respect on matters relating to the economy, wrote: “Clearly, no one knows what the hell is going on.” Confusion seems to have become an overriding sentiment as the world sets about sorting its way out through the mess.
At the same time, the sizes of the bailout packages being put to work are gigantic. The US stimulus plan that recently passed Congress is larger than the entire gross domestic product of Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all bunched together with a few billions still left to spare.
The two together form a red alert. A bailout of this scale cannot be maneuvered with confusion. It needs sharp focus — with crystal clarity on the way forward.
To succeed, we will have to do two apparently contradictory things at the same time.
The first: looking in the rear view mirror for lessons from the past. We have to ensure we do not fall into the traps of the past; do not fall prey to risk camouflaged in complexity; do not get carried away with a numbers-driven story in place of a steady, sustainable journey.
The second — and more important — is to think afresh, to think unencumbered by baggage from the past. The future demands new, innovative, transformational solutions. As a case in point, the way my industry has showcased business value in the past was by highlighting customer benefits from IT solutions. A transformational solution today would instead show a customer how he could dramatically cut annual costs on IT and still derive far greater value from it.
Such solutions build bridges between diverse viewpoints, addressing customers from their side in a radically changed and intertwined landscape. This is the only way forward.
At Davos, some of the initiatives that emerged reflected innovative thinking — such as the Young Global leaders programme to develop a code of ethics, the intended reform of international financial architecture and deterrence of ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ government policies. Reports on The Next Billions and Green Investing should also offer some new food for thought.
However, we need more, much more. We need fresh minds scanning tirelessly for new avenues of growth. We need conviction and leadership. And we need mavericks who are willing to step on the accelerator while the world slams on the brakes.
Originally posted on Vineet Nayar’s Blog site on Harvard Business Review: https://elb.hbr.org/2009/03/amid-economic-confusion-press