Thursday, January 08, 2009
New year, new hope, new paradigm
|In many ways, 2009 is “newer” than most years. All of us are touched in some way by these unprecedented economic and geopolitical conditions. Change is more than a political slogan for business leaders. It’s something we all must do in order to survive, adapt, grow and continue to lead.
As unsettling as the prospect of change always is, this time around it’s wrapped in some unusual but welcome circumstances. The most obvious of these is that we want change. We’ve lost our collective tolerance for partisan and negative politics, for ill-founded wars and for the blind enablement of industries and business models that no longer serve the greater good. November’s historic election confirmed that, as daunting as change is, the American people are ready for it.
The other notable circumstance here is the co-mingling of change with hope. Our collective intolerance of a whole lot of bad situations has given way to a collective commitment toward better situations. And we’re smart enough to define “better” as more careful, more empathetic, more appreciative and more ethical. We’re anxious to change things because we believe that we can make a better life for ourselves, our families and those in our spheres of influence.
As is our custom, we use this annual change in the calendar to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. Individuals make New Year’s resolutions, and businesses finalize operating plans. My sense is that for businesses, this is a far more thoughtful process than has been typical. Business owners and executives are diving deeper than the company’s budget for the next 12 months. They’re focusing on core missions and value systems, and on shaping cultures and industries to respond in a far more favorable way to the needs of the marketplace. Instead of relying on conventions (many of which are shaky at best), business leaders must rely on ingenuity and work ethic to drive new and better paradigms. Although hard to dimension, we are certain that Americans have an abundance of both of these qualities.
History assures us that the outcome of all this will be the emergence of new industries and unique commercial models that will restore economic prosperity. We’ve set the bar higher this time, though. We won’t tolerate wealth without fairness. We won’t sell-out our future for the present. We won’t mistake greed for power. Although there are plenty more Bernard Madoffs and Rod Blagojevichs out there, the new business, political and cultural order that we’re carefully crafting will rapidly expose and dismiss those types.
2009: It’s when we’ll see change as inevitable and embrace it, rather than resist it. Unsettling and stimulating at the same time. Only good can come of it. A fair playing field in politics, in business and in life. This is a truly promising new year.