Mapping Our Future

Since the global financial crisis (GFC) started in 2008 (or was it ’07) it has become more obvious that business as usual is one of the first casualties.

Some of us have been working on more sustainable business ideas as it has been clear for a long time that the “growth at all costs” mantra has run out of room. Looking back over this blog it has become a recurring topic as various economic, social and cultural indicators have started to redline.

However it takes a long time to change the culture around many of these driving ideas and so the GFC in many respects is now acting as a kind of circuit breaker to make businesses and consumers rethink out attitudes to all kinds of resources and business activities.

It is pleasing to see more sustainability projects gaining momentum. In the words of the Sustainable Future Institute project 2058

“The world is changing and, as New Zealanders, we need to think about what this means for us and our future.

Often strategic thinking only occurs in terms of the three-year election cycle, but this does not prepare us well for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Promoting long-term thinking, leadership and capacity-building to manage an uncertain future is critical.

To help address these challenges and opportunities the Sustainable Future Institute is developing a vision of what a sustainable New Zealand may look like in the year 2058 and an overarching strategy to reach this vision – this is known as Project 2058.”

The italics and bolding above are mine but I certainly agree that we need to take a longer term view on all kinds of projects. In my neighbourhood I’d like to give a great big hat tip to GreyLynn 2030 which is part of the transition towns movement.

Some of you know that from August this year I have been lecturing part time on digital marketing at Unitec. It has been a great pleasure to be part of a 50 person cohort of students from NZ and many from overseas who are looking at business futures with fresh eyes.

In reading essays and assignments on future business from the students it has become apparent that many of us are unclear on where NZ makes its money and where our economic future lies.

We also just had an election campaign that was knee deep in platitudes and backslapping from a presidential style beauty contest. No surprise to see that the best looking pony won but the prime Minister is in lala land is he thinks an increase of 2-3% of votes is really a mandate for asset stripping and idealogy driven changes to education.

The Greens have won 14 seats and in some electorates got more than 20% of the vote. The National Party will ignore that at their peril. The rise of the Green party and what it represents is far more significant that any other demographic changes in the last election.

From the official results it is also clear that voter disillusionment with the parliamentary process is at an all time high for something like 1m voters not bothering to vote at all.

  • The number of seats in Parliament will be 121.
  • The National Party has lost one list seat compared to election night, and now has 59 seats in total.
  • The Green Party has gained one list seat compared to election night, and now has 14 seats in total.

What we need now is for citizens to really examine some of the myths around the NZ economic and business future from a factual basis.

New Zealand is in a global economy and we need to rethink where our investments of time and resources go in the future. We need to build a more sustaining business culture that recognises that the same old, same old isn’t going to work.

The presentation by Sir Paul Callaghan offers some ideas for a way forward -(see video above) or link here if that embed doesn’t work  We need more innovation and smarter use of technology in business. We also need to stop perpetuating some of the old myths about NZ business and stop throwing good $ after bad.

It is time to look part the political posturing of yesterdays men ( politicians that is you) who are still thinking short term for the most part. Last week I was delighted to have a look around Fisher & Paykel Healthcare which is a $500m company that New Zealand needs more of.

It is time to reframe the debate and understand where NZ has real competitive advantage come from. Lets go there instead of leaving it to commodities markets and bankers who really are still stuck in a zero sum game. Time to remap and reinvent the future.