Posted by: dstieglitz | March 9, 2009

A WHOLE NEW WOLRD

     During my lifetime, several frightening events have accelerated the pace of change, threatened the world’s economic stability, and ushered in an entirely new way of thinking. The launch of Sputnik (1957), fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), and 9/11 (2001) are examples. After those events, the world changed so fast and so broadly that the new reality could not be accommodated within previous paradigms. Business strategies and practices that once had been effective, didn’t apply any longer.

 

Today’s collapsing financial system and free-falling stock and real estate prices are another shocking event that pushes us into a period of revolutionary change. When the recovery runs its course, we’ll find ourselves in a world that is strikingly different from the one we knew just a short time ago. Changes that were in progress before the upheaval (e.g., globalization, economic emergence of second and third world countries, and rapid technological advances) will be accelerated. To stay on top through such revolutionary change, you can’t just react. To succeed you must anticipate change, embrace the implications of change, and use change to your advantage. Waiting for the “old world” to return is not a viable business or career strategy because it isn’t coming back!

 

The recovery that will carry us into the new world will be rooted in fundamental shifts in our prevailing economic and sociological beliefs.  The new beliefs include:

$  Allowing government to dictate the practices and priorities of major industries,

$  Accepting responsibility to preserve the planet on which we depend for life itself,

$  Rejecting war as a national policy and the expensive weapons that support such policy,

$  Understanding that our future economic success depends on global success,

$  Tolerating massive debt to create new technologies and modernize our infrastructure,

$  Learning to do business in an environment where credit is more difficult to obtain,

$  Searching for a new retirement model for the once-affluent baby boomer generation,

$  Creating a tax structure where 20% of the people to pay for almost everything.

Further political shifts, technological breakthroughs, and natural disasters could intensify or retard the advance of these beliefs, but they are irreversible. These beliefs will form the underpinnings of a whole new business world.

 

The $787B dollar economic stimulus bill signed by President Obama in February indicates how these beliefs affect the recovery. The bill is a buffet of opportunities for any business that offers products or services related to energy efficiency, energy production, education, health care, information technology, cyber-security, infrastructure construction, government contracting, research & development, bio-tech, nano-tech, and the industries that support them. Money is rushing out the door in the form of Federal contracts, grants, tax incentives, and block transfers to state governments. Businesses that could ignore Federal policies in the past, can’t anymore. No matter what business you are in, you must align your strategy with what the Federal government is planning to support. Today, change is a run-away freight train — your choices are to get on board, or get run over.

 

The $64,000 question is: What changes should executives expect, and what actions should they take? Too many executives are trying to survive today’s crisis by reducing staff, curtailing investments, closing offices, and cutting benefits. Such actions are rooted in a belief that old ways of doing business will return when the economy recovers. That belief is the path to oblivion in times of rampant change. Great change produces great opportunity, but only for those who anticipate, embrace, and use change to expand their success. To voice your views on these matters, log onto the change blog at www.dickstieglitz.com.

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