Saturday, April 28, 2007

The times, they are a-changing

Let's face facts - this is a [fast] changing world.

When I was in school, the road ahead was easy: study hard; go to varsity; get a good degree and a professional qualification; work hard for a while, and the rest was supposed to be easy. Tick, tick, tick, tick, um... boom? (with apologies to Will Smith).

If there's one thing that really drives me up the wall, it's corporate bureaucracy! Having been exposed to large corporates for much of six years I spent in the professional environment, I swear most of corporate South Africa is busy steering the Titanic - it takes about three months and seven levels of management just to turn the ship, but hitting the iceberg is inevitable. Now before you go getting mad at me for saying this, give me one good reason to believe this isn't true. Just one. Any takers?

There are some incredibly intelligent people out there who have seen this coming for a while, and have tried to sound the warning. Tom Peters for one - his book "Re-imagine" is, by miles, the best business book I have ever picked up (and I'm not even halfway through it yet). This is an incredibly challenging read, where every paragraph brings with it serious questioning of the way things are done. Awesome stuff, and I would encourage anyone who has even the faintest interest in business to give it a glance.

What we need to understand going forward is that the rules have changed! And are constantly changing! And we need to be preparing accordingly. We are in a state of flux, but there's no point in preparing the future generation to make the same mistakes as past and current ones. We need to be teaching entrepreneurs how to build flexible, creative, even virtual businesses. And we need to be supporting this as far as possible. Instead, we have enough legislation and red-tape to bury a small country in - literally.

This is my cry - to government, professionals, decision-makers - lets free it up before its too late. We have to take our eyes of our feet, trying to place every foot step perfectly while heading off in who knows what direction. Instead, lets lift our eyes to the horizon, see where we're going and make sure we get there even if we do occasionally make mistakes. After all, its only when we make mistakes that we really learn.

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