Ideas on How to Navigate the New Normal in 2013
OUR INABILITY TO SOMETIMES FACE AND ACT ON OBVIOUS TRUTHS IS PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST DISTURBING ASPECTS OF THE HUMAN RACE. I WONDER WHY WE INSIST ON BEING TRAPPED IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR IN THE HOPE THAT THE PAST WILL RETURN TO BE OUR FUTURE. THAT IS NOT THE WAY THE WORLD HAS BEEN OR WILL BE.
So, at the threshold of a New Year, we need to now let go of our glorious past and put all the intellect at our command to focus on forward action. First, the truth of today.
In his commentary on a weak global economic forecast for 2013, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard pointed out that 'familiar' forces such as a still-weak financial system were continuing to drag down advanced economy growth.
He cautioned, "More seems to be at work than these mechanical forces." He was referring to the "general feeling of uncertainty" that surrounds us.
I believe that this uncertainty has a far more damaging potential than the looming fiscal cliff, the euro debt crisis or a weak financial system per se. If we look back at the Great Depression of the 1930s and the hard-fought recovery that followed, we note that determined business enterprise stood at the core of the upswing.
Fiscal measures played their part for sure. But, as Frank G Steindl infers in his recent paper, the phenomenon that really drove the recovery was increasing productivity, spurred by technological progress. Watching the world transfixed on political freeze and thaw cycles, I am wondering whether we're looking in the wrong direction.
There is no doubt about the fact that there are tough times ahead. We've been through a lot of turbulence in 2012, and if we are to believe the analysts, there's more to come in 2013. But as we welcome the New Year, I believe it's time we look in the mirror and take a few ideas forward to fix our tomorrow and make it what we want it to be:
STOP THE PANIC:
The first is coming to terms with the fact that the choppy waters are not calming down any time soon. This is the new normal and we need to do river rafting in these waters and enjoy it as much as we enjoyed rowing in calm waters in the past. We need to muster resilience and move forward with conviction in our collective ability to come through stronger. It's time we accept the "certainty of uncertainty" and stop wasting our time and resources on worrying about how bad it could be and find excitement and opportunity in uncertainty.
REDISCOVER OUR 'CAN-DO' SPIRIT:
There is no denying that we've all tried hard to set our respective boats right in 2012. Yet, things haven't quite shaped up the way we would have liked â€” as yet! So, what should we do? To borrow from Tom Friedman's interpretation of the recent US poll verdict, "Now try even harder," This is also reflected in the WEF's theme for 2013: Resilience and Dynamism.
As it points out, we have to accept the fact that there is no risk-free growth model available in the global economy today . It is, therefore, critical that we adopt a risk-friendly mindset in the coming year; as they say, there is no gain without pain, thus taking and managing risks needs to become a well-developed art form.
ROW AGAINST THE TIDE:
For all their differences, the one common principle on Wall Street and Main Street is that following the tide won't get us ahead. We have to be counter-intuitive, trust our instincts and carve our own path in the prevailing environment. As a case in point, at HCL, in view of the economic and social reset caused by the recession, we took a decision to invert or reverse outsourcing in its conventional sense, and create 10,000 jobs in local communities where we do business by investing in partnerships with local US and European universities.
MAKE YOUR STREET STRATEGY:
I have never been a big believer of lofty vision and strategy statements and like to keep my ears to the ground and nose close to the air before deciding the way forward. Now, more than ever before, we need a street strategy as we find our way through the economic fog. We need to keep our gaze at street level, and look for opportunities through this window.
This is particularly important as we explore markets in new and unfamiliar corners. Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter pointed out in a recent blog post that in order to see the world from the street up, companies like Procter & Gamble are actually sending employees to live in the homes of people in new markets.
BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF 'ONE WORLD':
Most of all, we should celebrate the fact that we live in the most interdependent, interconnected era in human history. Look around. As Fareed Zakaria pointed out, there is unprecedented peace, integration and progress today. Together , the world is taking positive strides forward in fighting poverty and disease.
Life expectancy has never been higher . Technology is at our command ; the smart phone in our pocket today could have more computing power than the Apollo space capsule. So where do we go from here? I don't know, but there are three words that could hold some cues for the forward journey: 'Unreasonable' , 'Fearless' and 'Faith'.
'Unreasonable' because with reason, you cannot go as far as your belief may want you to go, 'Fearless' because only companies that redraw contours and take innovation leaps fearlessly can come out successful in the coming years, and 'Faith'; yes, at the end, it's all about keeping the faith; as Dori says in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming!