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Business - Written by on Thursday, January 29, 2009 16:32 - 3 Comments

Paul Artiuch
From Growth to Efficiency

As the downturn continues to hit businesses and workers, many are wondering what will be the source of growth that will help lift the world out of recession. Initially, many thought that consumers and governments in developing countries such as China and India would boost spending enough to avoid a major global crisis. Although this would help, emerging economies are still not large enough to carry the burden. In fact the Chinese Premier is in Davos this week delivering a message to temper the expectations of the world’s business and political leaders. The result is that the world’s GDP is set to see the slowest growth in 60 years.

However, the discussions around growth seem misguided in a new world where virtually all resources are scarce. Due to the banking crisis, the flow of capital has slowed to a trickle. Even after banks are reorganized, it seems that leverage will be used more sparingly, raising the cost of capital for all. Human capital, despite the recent layoffs, is also expected to become scarce as the boomers retire, albeit a few years later than they were planning. All forms of natural resources, including water, timber, oil and minerals will be in short supply, especially as emerging market consumers look for ways to bring up their standards of living.

The reality of scarcity implies that economies will need to fundamentally rethink how they judge progress. It seems that efficiency will be the new mantra. How much more can you get out of what you have? This goes for financial capital, human capital as well as natural resources. While the amount of resources used stays constant (or shrinks) people will need to think of more efficient ways of exploiting them to lift their living standards. The interesting question for us is how the principles of Wikinomics can be applied to help organizations deal with scarcity.

Companies will need to shed legacy business models in order to more effectively use their human and financial capital. The practice of laying off workers in bad times and fighting for talent in good times may be suitable to monolithic and hierarchical organizations, but not the modern 21st century enterprise. Organizations need to become more fluid, agile and transparent to enable more foresight and flexibility in their operations. A focus on collaborative innovation, especially when there is slack in the organization during downturns, leads to gains when the economy picks up.

All in all, the current crisis presents an enormous opportunity to move away from exalting aggregate consumption to embracing responsible management of resources. This requires a major mind-shift, however, the burning platform is certainly there. It seems that along with Obama’s Era of Responsibility the Age of Efficiency is here. The limits of unbridled consumption are now obvious – growth will need to come from doing more with less.


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Outsource Account
Jan 30, 2009 5:17

Organizations need to become more fluid, agile and transparent to enable more foresight and flexibility in their operations.

Feb 10, 2009 19:56

The time is ripe for new experiments in large scale productive networking. I agree that “old” business models need to be re-invented starting with the employer-employee relationship. We need new sharing models that spread the benefits upon many. This means less for some who, today, take home way too much.

By extension, the same is true when it comes to resources and ecology. That the US consumes 1/4 of all the world energy resources is a flagrant example. If you live there, you will have to make sacrifices in terms of mobility and power usage. It is time to fundamentally re-invent the “American way of life” that inspired the 20th century.

The beneficial aspect of a major depression is that, unless we all take guns and start shooting at each other, we can globally be forced to change our lifestyles immediately and drastically. Not necessarily do “more with less” but do “the same with less”, simply implying that we do things differently. A new era of growth is not the solution. It is time to be creative.

But, we must be ready to accept hardships now! If all jump on the barricades forcing politicians “not to give an inch”, politicians will fight a war for you… to the bitter end.
Historically, the result of war is always the same: CHANGE. But, at what human cost?

Wikinomics Blog Archive From Growth to Efficiency | Shed Kits
May 27, 2009 1:47

[...] Wikinomics Blog Archive From Growth to Efficiency Posted by root 1 day 2 hours 14 minutes ago (http://www.wikinomics.com) All forms of natural resources including water timber oil and minerals will be companies will need to shed legacy business models in order to more your website your comment wikinomics is powered by wordpress Discuss  |  Bury |  News | wikinomics blog archive from growth to efficiency [...]

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