Thursday, 31 January 2013

How do we drive growth?

This is a tough one. We could lower interest rates. They were lowered years ago. That does not seem to work. We could pump more money into the system; encourage lending so that we can increase consumption. We tried that. I know we could print more money. Where did all that money go? That was clever. We could lower taxes or increase them. I got another idea; we could increase spending.
After all these bright ideas which by the way as usual are all to do with money; Britain could be going into a triple dip recession, Belgium has stagnated and it’s going to get worse.  Holland’s economy is in the doldrums and just cannot find the answers. Young people have no work and are increasingly, frustrated and uninspired. What is going on?

I am not an economist as such but all these ideas look like they need to be put into the bin. Somehow we have to do better than this. My take on growth is this. We need to sit down, take a step back, spend time on ourselves and think; each and every one of us who has that potential. Leaders, potential leaders, high potentials, even young people. Perhaps it is not those people; but the quiet ones, hiding or most likely those amongst us who are unhappy in their careers or feel trapped in the system. In brief all those; who can feel or can hear that quiet voice knocking within them telling them to do something more useful which may encompass your sense of purpose, to change or to do something greater in whatever capacity or form.

Therefore it has to start from the individual. This individual would require getting a grip of his or her own concience, searching for a purpose and finding his/her talent. It will come. It can be that simple. He/she is suddenly driven by passion, drive and loves what he/she does. He has discovered himself and his voice. He has quite likely invented something and with a vision he or she sees the need. He has convinced people that this product or service has to work because he or she believes in it. There is a goal and a purpose for the moral benefit of others which will either improve the way we live in our society or it is for the greater good. 

People like what he or she is doing. He or she becomes a magnet to others as they share that belief and the passion spreads. They join him or her and contribute their added value into the differing requirements of the company. There is very little money of course but who cares. Suddenly with collective belief and a lot of work; the business is coming together. There is a need and the customers like it. They start paying them. Suddenly there is some revenue. This revenue grows and the service or product is able to expand and grow. There are more job opportunities and things simply take off from there.

Perhaps I am being an idealist but is this not the way we drive growth. It has nothing to do with monetary policy or economics. Economics is important in the sense that when revenue comes; we need to manage this well and sensibly and find ways to help the most vulnerable. Money is important of course as it is a tool or an object that is used in exchange for goods and services. But it must not be a sole driver or a purpose or used as some power tool. It is also what the world justifiably and fairly pays you for our work, our contribution, our added value and talent.

Back in 2000, I met a company called Tom Tom in Amsterdam. I had to find them a financial controller. They were explaining their product to me; it took me a while to understand or comprehend their product as I had never seen or heard of it before. Some sort of global satellite picture map system in your car which could direct you and tell you where you are and where to go. I thought this was really bizarre, and a liked what I heard. They were going to launch it. Their offices were in an attic of a rundown house in Amsterdam. They had perhaps a dozen people or so. These guys really believed in what they were doing. Today they employ 3.500 people in 40 countries.  This is growth, mixed in with talent, ambition and self-belief in which they saw a need. This has nothing to do with monetary policy and of economics.

If you look at today the money is being pumped in then sucked out of the system. Government taxes go up and banks working for their own interests. Regulation increases. People feel trapped in their careers and talent is being stifled. There has to be something wrong. But it is hard for me to give the answers; it might be falling into the wrong pockets or of the few. In truth; it is not working and it is meaningless. Surely the forces of nature are enticing those of us out there, who want to contribute particularly those of us in business; to think, to stand up, to see where we can improve, to change, to adapt and to be ultimately fulfilled for the benefit of others in whatever capacity or form. Essentially we must have the freedom and be permitted to do at least that; if not then God help us.

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