A New Way Forward
For the last century we have undergone cycles of boom and busts in the economic realm. It seems that we may well be entering new unexplored territory. If history is any indication we enter into periods of economic tipping points, such as those experienced in 1919, 1929, 1939 and 1989. The current economic uncertainty that has swept the world may be just the impetus to break free from the shackles of an unworkable and completely unsustainable system. History suggests that any prolonged downturn in economic activity is needed if we genuinely want to change the economic mindsets, business models and technologies that allow investment and entrepreneurial ingenuity to take place.
A new breed of public and private sector investment in areas such as corporate responsibility and sustainable development may well be the saviour of a stalled and inequitable system. We are witnessing a new generation of entrepreneurs, thinkers and activists that are developing and taking action to innovate and move forward. The economic crisis, corporate greed and debt fiascos throughout the world have shaken confidence in old methodologies and priorities. This increasingly bankrupt and inequitable allocation of capital and resources has created a growing public and political appetite for an alternative paradigm. It seems that to move forward in transition to a new paradigm will bring creative innovation and efficiencies that focus on community and people as opposed to profit and disunity. This paradigm shift is going to have profound implications for society, our political leaders and our economic systems. This may well be the era of the entrepreneurial innovator and leaders of atypical design.
Disruptive threats now facing the planet are at an all-time high: climate change, water scarcity, poverty, disease, growing income inequality, urbanisation, massive economic volatility are some of the more obvious ones. As we move toward a new beginning there will need to be a mobilisation of capital directed to overcome these unprecedented challenges faced by humanity. This turning point requires smart long term thinking that challenges the foundations of human ingenuity, connectedness and compassion.
The mantra moving forward needs to be of a long term focus as opposed to short term boom bust mentality of continual growth. The word resilience will be one heard much more over the coming years. The new economy will integrate triple bottom line methodology of economic, social and environmental value adding. Some of the key areas this new paradigm shift will encapsulate include:
Focus on efficiency – redesigning the business model to ensure environmental and social considerations are first and foremost. Unleashing the creative power of team to develop and look at things from a fresh perspective. Pull the business apart and reassemble it with a fresh approach to design, supply chain, energy consumption, streamlining and value adding. Asking questions such as how can we reduce costs through “ergonomic” design of the workforce and the systems we use? What does our industry look like in five or ten years’ time? What are the risks associated with the business as usual model? Can we divest and diversify into another business that may have a brighter future?
Developing Partnerships – What other businesses in your local region can you partner with to help improve efficiencies? Are there synergies among your current suppliers that you need to explore more fully? How can our organisation structure funding between enterprises or partners to yield efficiencies and mutually beneficial outcomes?
Rethinking Business Agendas and Research – The growing impact of the economic discontinuity suggests that it is time to question the very principles on which business base their agendas. Many current areas such as financial budgeting, accounting, strategy and marketing, show little evidence of the integration of ethical, social and environmental considerations. Those organisations that have the foresight to prepare and plan for a future taking into account these variables will reap the reward. This type of thinking encourages long term planning as opposed to short term profit maximisation.
What ifs – After careful analysis of the business unit or units organisations must make tough calls as to the future of the business they operate. Does the business have a future? What if the business we are running is a dinosaur and goes completely against the new paradigm? What if we changed the business model? What if we reengineered the entire culture to one of community, collaboration and equality? What is our organisation was focused primarily on the people as opposed to profit? Would a cooperative styled organisation work?
Below are some companies that are doing these very things. Check them out and you will get some great ideas and inspiration.