Think HBR


You may not have thought about it, but we are in the midst of historical times - a period that will be viewed as the information revolution and the accompanying globalisation revolution.
Now I know these terms are bandied about almost on a daily basis, but have you really thought what it means for business?
These forces have been in play for several decades but are now reaching such levels that no business is unaffected. They are now resulting in major upheavals in economies around the world, both at macro and micro levels.
Think of the changes even in the last few months in Australia. The three Australian-based car manufacturers have all announced that they will cease local production, the once blue-chip QANTAS has been forced into major restructuring and a number of smaller businesses that have been around for decades have ceased operations.
In many ways it is a very difficult time for business. Markets, lifestyles, technology and even global economic forces are changing so quickly that it is almost impossible to know which way to steer. Many old ways of doing business are now not only unsuccessful but actually dangerous to business profitability. It is in these times a case of survival of the quickest to adapt, not survival of the strongest or biggest. This all sounds quite negative, but there is a positive side. While change brings threats, it also brings opportunities for those that can see the evolving opportunities and take advantage of the opportunities before they evaporate.
The successful businesses and nations around the world will be those that are forward focussed and can continually restructure to adapt to changing conditions. Australia is geographically well placed to take advantage of the rapid growth of Asian economies but not so well placed in terms of national leadership to face these uncertain times. Politically, there seems a real dearth of vision. Neither of the major sides of politics seems willing or able to set an applicable agenda to meet with these turbulent times. Indeed many seem happier to be follower of public opinion rather than leaders. The stark reality is that the Australian economy needs to decide on its strengths and weaknesses on the global stage. It needs to be agile enough to take advantage of our strengths and overcome or reduce our weaknesses. We can no longer live in the dreamland of ignoring globalisation. Businesses are more mobile than ever. For many businesses, the location of markets is of diminishing importance. Even if they want to sell into the Australian market businesses can easily relocate to another country where business conditions are more conducive.
These major challenges are being made even more difficult by our political system that puts party loyalty before the national interest and pace of change that is almost always very slow. It is really a time for government, business, unions and other sectors of the economy to face the reality that we all need to change the way we think and operate. We are but a very small part of the global marketplace and will not succeed by mere luck. Australia’s future economic prosperity will be determined by how we act.