New York City played host to the World Innovation Forum, on June 7th and 8th, 2011. The event was held at the Best Buy Theater. Some leading authorities on innovation and technology (I&T) participated, discussing how it’s changed the ‘business model to success.’
In addition, I had the good fortunate of listening to a few panels of ‘The 2011 Global China Summit.’ The array of information offered an appreciation of why the world is focused on China.
Accordingly, it made sense to provide a recap of the World Innovation Forum in one part. And then follow it with a summary of the Global China Summit. I truly believe the audience will come away with why these two events are so linked, offering a snapshot of changes already long in the making.
To somewhat set the tone, the US and many other countries are waddling in an economic quagmire; on the other end, China is facing problems due to past and present growth trends. If asked, most might prefer having China’s challenges.
Interestingly, one has to wonder if China will rise above past mistakes of managements articulated by speakers of the WIF. And, does China’s future potential reflect practice methods of the ‘new business model’ now in place, or a bigger threat if they now incorporate them?
The techniques discussed are being put into practice by companies, for global growth and survival. The core emphasis by speakers sparked conversations about possibilities and concerns of upcoming challenges.
One profound thought, reflective of this gathering, is how the dynamics of innovation may well usher in proficiencies and optimal profits, but do not necessarily promote long-term survival or revenue growth.
Another idea, as noted, spoke of how the social network of individuals has also benefitted and been changed in the work environment, by I&T. On one hand, the lines of home and work are now blurred; while on another hand, the home based modes of business diminish important social interaction usually present in the work place.
The presentations offered various challenges: 1.) a theme of happiness, can it be mandated in the business environment; 2.) what if you did all the right responsive steps for reducing costs, but, in effect, were marching toward your own demise; 3.) do you really know who your customers are; and, 4.) how does one reconstruct an approach to business, leveraging the resources of the world, to better serve their customers.
The bottom line may still be profitability for all; but I&T are increasingly critical to organizations, in accomplishing sustainability. One main reason seems to be a new expectation of consumers, within the context of personalization.
As the forum continued, there were many debatable inferences to be drawn. Surprisingly, they relate to an application of privacy and civil liberties. Appropriately, let this argument be stated: If employees are treated with flexibility and freedom to explore pet projects, and products & service are personalized to each customer’s desire, then an organization has created an atmosphere where people know they are critical, important, and appreciated. Not just for fulfilling roles, but for long-term sustainability, in the face of innovation and advancement from technology.
As such, at least, one assumption follows the point above. The traditional business model can often create scenarios where the concern for legal coverage causes an environment of diminishing too quickly certain privacy and civil liberties, likely the type not conducive to promoting improvements. Consequently, it sets a direction that undermines the workplace, despite giving much handbook legal-ease lip service.
Thru the various speakers, some possible conclusions, given in short form for now: 1.) make the compensation a fair amount in the eyes of the worker, and you’ll find a better concentration to the tasks and growth of ideas; 2.) the expectation that regardless of how high or low - one’s role, respect is something to be displayed to all fellow workers; 3.) understanding customer service through cross training is helpful to all levels, i.e. receptionist in purchasing, accountant in general ledger, receiving department clerk, etc; and, 4.) support mechanisms, for employees to deliver good customer service, go beyond some script; rather, it entails a total organizational effort about creating the ‘wow’ experience.
The ‘wow’ experience is firstly built upon a pillar of trust, between the company & customer, and also the employer & employee. That pillar of trust begins with a respectfulness of privacy & goals of the employee, within & outside the work environment. Secondly, the freedom of an employee to explore, to make goals, to self review, to make customer decisions on the spot, to take chances & fail, may potentially be a key for the betterment of a company, inclusive of profitability.
The first speaker, Clayton Christensen, placed an interesting idea before us. Essentially, he illustrated how a number of corporations had made the right decision to reduce costs; yet, it lacked connection to any benefits critical to long-term sustainability.
Just plausibly, a questionable conclusion can be drawn from his presentation. What approach can a business use for overall survival, incorporating a flexible strategy for the impact of innovation & technology (I&T)? Curiously, some of us pondered whether an answer was given.
If one wanted to articulate certain inferences, then firstly, optimizing success cannot be limited to lowering expenses; it’s important to grow revenues. Secondly, the least profitable units should not automatically be put on the chopping block, for true enemies grow stronger on what you abandon. And thirdly, don’t easily get hoodwinked by those offering cheaper options, i.e. an entity desires to produce your good for a lower charge, while keeping your name on it.
A key point to grapple with, in this context, is that today’s I&T is not only about the capabilities of an entity; rather, the inclusion of what it brings to consumer habits, expectations, & responses. The new social media & awareness of the green concept fairly illustrates the challenge.
In another example, Christensen dealt with computer development. Remember, the world went from mainframes to mini-computers to desktops to laptops to smart-phones. Thus, it is pertinent to ask: for your business entity, will you be the mainframe manufacturer when the mini-computer stage comes into play; or, the laptop when the personal smart phone arrives?
If so, can you still survive? Accordingly, in the perspective of relying upon past competencies versus future needs, the plausible solutions from I&T, in the debate of healthcare alone, serve notice of an evolution that’s coming.
The second main speaker was Tony Hsieh, who discussed bringing happiness into the workplace. His book is called: “Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.” He is the CEO, Zappos.com, Inc.
The focus elevates customer service & the customer experience, dressed in garb, referred to as ‘Delivering Wow.’ And as stated in his book: ‘Building a lifestyle that was about delivering happiness to everyone, including ourselves.’
Why? Simply or maybe, it’s good for business. After all, how would any of us feel if our favorite store had motivated employees, a 365 day return policy, non-scripted customer service, and was willing to spend over eight hours, on the phone, with a customer, to solve an issue.
Of course, what’s the formula for incorporating this into any environment, which is likely laced with politics, management override, aversive types, prejudice, fanatics, and deceitfulness, to say the least? Fundamentally, these societal poisons were not delved into or discussed by Tony, appropriately, one might fairly add.
Rather, he reflected upon achieving a kind of business utopia, by winning customer loyalty and word of mouth customer generated growth; as well as, the expectation that each employee/potential employee value and treat each other with respect.
As offered by him, the great companies always had strong culture; committable core values. Thus, you hire or fire based upon living up to those core values. And his listing of core values: 1.) deliver wow; 2.) embrace & drive change; 3.) create fun & a little weirdness; 4.) be adventurous, creative, & open-minded; 5.) pursue growth & learning; 6.) build open & honest relationships with communication; and, 7.) commit to transparency.
If you really think about it, the concept of happiness in a business office, versus the collective expectations of technical competence, profit growth, and legal obligations, are not mutually exclusive; and the perspective of making employees and customers feel good, appreciated, and important, is not a bad normative objective to aim for.
Fundamentally, you can learn by listening to the ideas of others. Accordingly, the 3rd speaker, Johan de Nysschen, President of Audi of America, Inc., shared his informative knowledge. In one sense, it underscores that some, at very young ages, know where or whom they want to be in life; perspectives others do well not to tamper with.
Proceeding, he articulated these words of wisdom: perhaps, the best preparation is not about guessing right on the next big product or service. Rather, when one contemplates strategic moves, long-term trends are preferable, but with an added twist.
And to set the tone, a tidbit about Audi deserves attention. Audi, in the mid-80’s, had experienced a blip in the road, no pun intended. As a result, their annual sales declined from 75K units to 10K units. In the years that followed, they were faced with either focusing long term, or a short-term strategy of just get the sales & get cars back on the road.
Furthermore, looking into their future, there’s a challenge of anticipating consumer demand, political climates, and the regulatory atmosphere. In part, his philosophy incorporated two things, stated in the context of cost considerations: 1.) there are no silver bullets; & 2.) take incremental steps.
Consequently, Audi decided to set their organization and manufacturing process to move in whatever direction(s) that might surface. Thus, if consumers had a larger appetite for green technology type cars, their facility was in ready mode; & vice versa for the continuation of fossil fuel cars. Frankly, it is quite a worthy accomplishment for a major car producer.
Something further, pursuit to his words: “get the consumer attention by punching them on the nose; define your competition & who your competitor is.” The net result, if one examines 2010, had Audi rebounding above the other car makers, even despite the recessionary period.
Not many people will stray from a pack, when there are known certainties of success & risks. This very thought is in conflict with an old saying: ‘build a better mouse trap, and the world will beat a pathway to your door.’
Roger Martin, who was the 4th speaker, opened with ‘how do we compete, as a company or individual?’ The problem being the way we think; the solution being ‘designed thinking (DT).’
As defined by him, the concept of DT is a cross between deductive & intuitive thinking. Accordingly, the value outcome is about its ability of a future predictability.
Ultimately, to further reference his remarks, most entities end up paying too much attention to the past v. paying too much attention to what can be. It is this dilemma, of focusing on either, that opens them up to vulnerability.
Regarding the above perspectives, the pathway of the design thinker involves nurturing originality. But keep in mind one cannot prove any innovation, i.e. new ideas, in advance. Ironically, sometimes you don’t do because you can’t measure. And sometimes something new does not always feel so good.
To illustrate, he suggested a CEO might pick a customer complaint; visit the customer & seek to address issue; appropriately, perhaps, due to the newness of the approach, the effort may not go well; however, it is about being reflective, and learning from it; & then reframing the approach for better success.
This formula can be re-summarized as an initiative: purpose, approach, & goal. The proverbial know without explicit reasoning; exploration of new knowledge; & then reliability & validity.
Mindfully, as an attendee, maybe it is fair to voice an opinion. After-all, a person can have incredible positive aims, to which many close minded people envy. They don’t see the vision, don’t understand the reasoning, or feel a threat to their ideology or income base. Going the extra distance, here’s a few analogies. Success need not conform to directions of: 1.) a role relating to recruiter/counselor in colleges or high schools; nor, 2.) a role of ‘sports/entertainment marketer to real estate guru,’ despite prospects of rubbing elbows with movie stars, sporting figures, or musicians, & whether or not under a religious umbrella; neither 3.) accolades associate with a ‘law/rule enforcement role’ bringing connections of politicians or prominent players, irrespective of the geographic.
This linkage of provoking thoughts can by found in the question offered by Roger as his ending. What should a young entrepreneur be thinking? His reply: Don’t confuse the absence of data with the inability to apply logic.
The fifth main speaker was Paola Antonelli. This presentation raised a few eyebrows; because profoundly, it offered applications of technology & innovation which pushes some envelopes of life.
Conceptually, her topic dealt with a question: why truly innovative design? But first, a base was set. From her positioning, ‘nature’ is the best designer. And through technology, computers are giving us the opportunities to come closer to its imitation & understanding. A process called biomimicry.
She thus embarked upon an analogy of the oldest ways of life, integrating that into today’s computer technology. One illustration underscored the use of bees to find cancer areas. Another referenced the E.chromi, which uses a coloring, where your poo tells what you have in terms of sickness or what is there.
Continuing forward, she directed us to the artistic community. Examples included: making a ring from the bone of a deceased love one; using gastric juices of a past love one in a battery for power.
In addition, there’s a video game reflecting going through life as an individual or with someone. But, you only get one shot; when you die in game you are done. Further reference was given to forms of communication brought on by new technology.
In application, it may allow for a better sense of humanity & the world, i.e. take a tragedy such as the oil spill on the gulf coast. With technology, using color schemes, you can superimpose on your neck of the world, say London or Los Angeles. Thus, it gives a sense of just how significant the event.
Accordingly, some critical points surfaced. Does it go too far? And should there be some type of reins? Or, as she stated, can we conclude that designers can mellow the disruption, making them more constructive for people to digest or for people to handle?
The incorporated aim, per her perspectives: How does cultural background play in pushing things like the above forward? What’s the impact on how to think, having an eye toward the future?
The first day ended with a mix panel, focused on reinventing management & then the sixth & seventh main speakers, Paddy Miller & Greg Hall. Paddy spoke about ‘The Innovation Architect,’ while Greg concentration was ‘Crisis Management Innovation.’
The mix panel consisted of James DeJulio (Founder of Tongal), Jordan Cohen (Pfizer), Ross Smith (Microsoft), John Seddon (The Systems Thinking Review), and Owen Buckwell (Portsmouth City Council). Their overall theme was: how do we radically move people in the direction of bold and innovative ideas?
In essence, the ‘what if’ question in creating organizations fit for the future and human beings. The reply presented: ‘dream big.’ Then what is required? Response: the notion of increasing trust throughout the organization; putting people together for productive ends; and remember, the future happens from the fringe, deep within the entity.
Perhaps, a quick comment or two by each panelist will possible give some insight into the questions & responses above. For Owen, he points out that enhancing the customer experience is the ultimate objective; not merely to meet the targets of measurements.
Regarding John, he spoke on managing value. The salient point being managers need to study the system. For example, treat activity as cost; appropriately, learn to deliver a repair on the day a tenant wants and needs it.
Continuing with Russ, he posed two questions within his discussions. What makes companies innovative? & how do I unleash the best of my workers’ capabilities? Mainly, the freedom to fail; this really incorporates the ideologies of autonomy, freedom, and the ability to make the decision.
Referencing to Tongal, James spoke of the oligopoly on ‘creative’ work in Hollywood; though encompassing a lot of talented workers, there’s frustration getting creative ideas through. Hence, ‘tongal’ is a platform for tapping the creative minds for commercials, & other marketing.
Last but not least, Jordan offered a question: how do you relieve the worker of the mind numbing busy work and get them on the high value work? To reword, working with a customer or developing strategy is most productive to really move things forward.
Following the mix panel, we were treated to Paddy. He defined the Innovation Architect; a person who creates a space in which innovation can take place. Taking on the innovation challenge, don’t get trapped on brainstorm island; deal with the disconnect, i.e. those who like & dislike something; predicting the future is about looking back, i.e. the suitcase invented in 1950, took until 1972 to get four wheels, & another 15 years, 1987, to get from four to two; frame the problem, not the solution.
The first day ended with Greg. Greg was the lead person that helped rescue the 33 miners trapped in Chile. They were 800 meters below the surface & known equipment had drilling capacity of only 400 meters; clearly, a crisis at hand.
The task at hand was for people and not for profit. The equipment needed and used was risky and actually un-tested. The government had their plan A, while his option was initially plan B.
As he noted, crisis management is the component of not giving up; planning for success despite the risk of failure, even if the odds are not in your favor. It’s about convincing others, even in logic of those around you having doubt.
The WIF was in part about leadership through innovation and technology. China by its own right is a world economic leader, as discussed in the Global China Summit. See if you agree. And thus, we begin a summary of the summit.
In remarks by Marcus Brauchli, he noted this event as being a ‘dialogue on China’s economic future; its ties to the U.S.; and its role as a global investor.’ Translation, China is considered now one of the world’s most powerful economic interests.
Continuing, the first panel speaker was David Miliband. He articulated that ‘historians may well define the last decade, not by a ‘war on terror,’ but rather, by the phrase: ‘made in China.’’
In this sense, further comments described China as having 150 million people, living on less than $1 per day; and having a per capita GDP of 1/10th U.S. level. However, in what’s upcoming, per China’s new 5 year plan, there’s an anticipation of 400 million people moving into cities, from the rural parts of the country; over 50K miles of new highway; 80K kilometers of high speed rail; 30K new skyscrapers; millions for higher education & billions for clean tech.
Moving to the next speaker, of this first panel, was Daniel Rosen. He spoke to a consensus about China, as the most important contributor to global growth. He cited three themes: A) China as a consumer of stuff might eclipse the U.S. within a decade; B) China, Inc, as a general descriptive term, is the most exciting story in global productions; and, C) China’s Outbound – Direct Investment, in the U.S. alone annually, is now over 300 deals ranging from $5 to $7 billion.
In essence, with a reference to the last point, Chinese firms are no longer just shipping to the U.S. across the pacific; rather, they are increasingly willing to become stakeholders in our communities. This creates opportunities & tensions.
The final speaker, in this opening segment, was Elizabeth Economy. She offered five trends, over the 30 years, helping economic growth; but, whose results, may now provoke a rethink of how China will proceed in the future.
1) Demographics: China benefitted from more people entering the work force & its high savings rate. Currently though, for 2030 projections, those in the 20s – age group are expected to drop by 35%; whereas, the 55 to 60 age group will increase by 60% & those over 65 will increase by 100%.
2) The government relieved state owned enterprises of their economic burden of social welfare, i.e. housing, education, & general welfare of workers. Consequently, the government forgot to replace it w/ anything else; thus, an imbalance resulted.
3) Poor implementation of environmental regulations & laws, i.e. very lack oversight. Hence, the environment is beginning to bite back; the estimate being a cost to the GDP of China, roughly 10%.
4) The limited nature of political reform to date in China has created a lack of transparency, official accountability, & rules of law. Clearly, its something that may conflict with the desire of China to move up the value chain: becoming an innovation economy.
5) Rise of the Internet: Internally to China, this is one of the most exciting changes; a hotbed of economic activity, having 800 million products for sale, 48K products sold per minute, & 370 million registered users. Not to mention, the build-up of a virtual political system.
The second panel in this summit had multiple presenters. The summary below only reflects one speaker, in the second panel, Charlene Barshefsky.
‘The theme: China’s Innovation Policy & what it might mean for businesses operating in China. To the initial response, Charlene laid out some general challenges with any developing country: fierce internal competition, lack of transparency, idiosyncratic government decision-making, corruption, state meddling, red tape, etc.
Such concerns are magnified in China because of its size & importance to business, in general; and though extraordinary opportunities exist in China, its challenges have greater & higher risks.
Hence, policies in developing countries matter, & often spell the difference between a successful & unsuccessful venture. And with that, she provided China’s. Its core national objective is to become an innovation economy.
Why? In part, it accelerates domestic growth & it provides China with the value added that’s missing in their chain right now. Note: China is a manufacturer; but, that is not where the money is made. The real money comes on the front & back end.
One, of the marvels, in statements about China is how it creates annually 10 to 13 million net jobs; versus the U.S. doing the roaring decades of the 90s, which created in total 22 million net jobs.
With 6 million college grads each year emerging, it is clear they have no intention of working in factories for a living. As a result, there’s an importance for China moving up the value chain. Low-end manufacturing is becoming more expensive; & the move toward a consumption based model of growth means people have to earn more money so they can spend.
How do you earn more money? You increase productivity. How do you increase productivity? You innovate, innovate, & innovate. And that is why China’s core objective is an innovation policy.
Continuing, she stated a key importance to China’s growth has been muli-nationals. As, they are the single largest contributor to GDP; & export 60% of what is produced in China.
In this regards, what does China see now? The levers of wealth & levers of value added are held by multi-nationals; not held indigenously by China or Chinese firms, typically; point being, it can keep a less developed country less developed.
Consequently, what does China want to be? China wants to lead the 2nd Industrial Revolution; much like what the U.S. was in the 1st Revolution; i.e. the 1st out the box.
This is extremely ambitious & certainly with merit; however, it has execution challenges. Firstly, China is not fundamentally an innovative, 1st out the box, science country; secondly, it will become that again, but it isn’t that right now.
So, there’s a significant gap between China’s aspiration & what it can indigenously produce inside fast enough, in respect to innovation; so as not to slow economic growth as this transition is happening.
What does that mean? For Charlene, the question becomes who fills the gap on innovation, on technology, on intellectual property? The answer reverts to multi-nationals who hold it.
So, in addition to a robust going out strategy by China, entailing an effort to purchase technology, branding, i.e. higher value added components, China has imposed a series of domestic policies measures. They include: mandatory standards, coerced technology transfer, & improving, but weak intellectual property protections.
So, what does it mean for foreign businesses operating in China? It does not mean you should not do business in China; nor does it mean you should not find partners in China;
But, you have to be smart; you have to understand the underlying political state necessity for bridging the innovative divide, & what that might mean for your business, in the context of any particular deal you might do.’
The 3rd panel presented Chee Hwa Tung, as the primary speaker. His coverage was US China Business Partnership.
Chee ‘thinks the US-China economic partnership is a great partnership & is working; but recognizes there is a lot more work to be done for before its full potential can be realized. Why? He illustrated the answer with quotes from Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) president.
Unfortunately, the basic reality has been lost in much of the political debate about China, which has fixated much on the false assumption that China’s growth must come at America’s expense. Factually, America’s job growth is increasing linked to China’s economic growth. Thus, we should be encouraged by this linkage.
Note, China has 1.3 billion customers, whose incomes are rising; whose demand for products & services is accelerating. Also, China is a country where American companies, large & small, want to do business. And not to go unnoticed, China is the fastest growing major overseas market for US exports.
For P&G, they started marketing brands in China in 1988. Today, they are the largest consumer product company in China, $5 billion in sales; and a strong record of profit growth.
Furthermore, none of their investment has come at the expense of US jobs; in fact, to the contrary, it supports many high skilled jobs back in the US, i.e. engineering, R&D, marketing, finance, & logistics.
Consequently, the success in a fast developing market like China leads to secure high wage jobs here in the US; however, there’s no question that doing business is challenging. In regards to P&G, they had to deal with counterfeiting & dispute with local business partners.
But, they have found that the engagement, with their Chinese counterparts, have generally resulted in fair treatment & positive results. Accordingly, P&G is committed to being & growing in China, for generations to come; ensuring, that American companies, like a P&G, can continue to succeed in China, which would drive economic & job growth here in the US.
The sentiment is that the maintenance of a healthy & productive US-China commercial relationship is important. As a result, it is neither China’s nor US interest to encourage trade conflict.
Consequently, we all need to step back & understand the full range of the US economic relationship with China. As a result, there’s a need to resist the tendency to isolate particular issues, such as, currency valuation or trade balances, from the broader & more complex interests which binds the two nations together.
The relationship, between US & China, is going well; P&G is one of the examples; others include KFC & Wal-mart. Sure, there are some arguments, i.e. like that of husband & wife. However, keep in mind, China is moving ahead, confidently, to build a more prosperous nation.
In the process of doing so, it is looking forward to working with countries around the world, particularly the US; because the US is the largest & strongest economic country in the world.’
In this continuing series, the 4th panel was titled Chinese Economic Competitiveness. Perhaps, in summarizing some remarks, the focus was more about the US itself, in terms of economic pros & cons.
Robert Rubin, as moderator, opened with these comments: ‘in the current atmosphere, there’s a feeling China is in the process of becoming an economic goliath. As for the US, it is experiencing difficult conditions at present times, i.e. enormously powerful headwinds. Hence, recovery is likely to remain slow, with difficult & stubbornly high unemployment.
There’s sentiment a double dip recession is unlikely; but, it is imperative to have another stimulus and serious long-term-deficit reductions. That should include cost constraints across all segments of expenditures, along with significant increase in revenues; however, the politics around all of this is difficult; the ultimate dispositive challenge being political will.
Long-term, the US is considered to have enormous comparative advantages; the dynamics of our society, flexible labor, capital markets, the rule of law, demographics, natural resources, & much else. Consequently, in a rapidly changing global economy, the US is well positioned to succeed; but to realize that potential, there’s a need to have a sound fiscal regime. And that includes strong public investment and reform in key areas of the economy, i.e. healthcare costs, immigration, energy, etc.). Again, the dispositive challenge being: do we have the political will & will our political system have the effectiveness to do what it needs to do?’
Cheng Li, another panelist, addressed this inquiry: What is the view in China of the long-term prospects in respect to the US economy & political system? He noted, ‘the perspectives are not unitary or monolithic or rigid; it is rather broad, divided, and pluralistic.
For him, there are three perspectives: 1) the latest US financial crisis is reflective of an America in decline & a structural issue; thus, a long-term problem; for some conservatives in China, it indicates China is going in the right direction; 2) Sees American strength & competitiveness; an America of dynamic & mature private sector, with strong social sector; and 3) the mainstream view, where a collaboration with US, for China, is not a matter of choice, but of necessity.’
Continuing with the panelist, Li Bin was ‘very optimistic of US economy; however, he echoed that if US monetary intervention tools are not available, why not try more fiscal tools.’
The next participant, David Rubenstein, ‘recalled growing up with a US being the dominant economy in the world & thought it would remain so. Yet, China, by 2016 or 2025, will likely become the largest, with US to fall to second.
Furthermore, we in the US make a lot of investment in China, but not vice-versa; China invests approximately 2% of their foreign direct investments into the US. Why? We in the US are not welcoming to China & make it difficult for them to invest here; and thus, they go elsewhere.
The last panelist was David Loevinger. He went on to say, ‘the US is a resilient economy & has a lot of fundamental strengths, i.e. rule of law, innovation, and a financial sector that can get capital. So, don’t count US out.
Additionally, China faces some medium term challenges; it needs to change if its going to get to the next stage of development; also, like in the US, China has very powerful vested interests; whom have a stake in China’s development model, and will resist change very fiercely.’
This 5th panel intended to focus upon China’s Global Reach. The themes posed by moderator, Nader Monsavizadeh: ‘How are China’s investments & economic activities around the world changing the global economy? & how is it changing societies in which China is investing? & how does the rest of the world react to that from an economic & political perspective?
He also gave some insightful points from his business experience; it included: there’s a great diversity in the nature of Chinese investments; it’s not just one shape or one form; & in African countries, China is building infrastructure that no other institutions are willing to build.’
From panelist SRI Mulyani Indrawati, she noted ‘China is the largest exporter in the world. China is the second largest importer in the world.
Furthermore, China is becoming very big & large; but, at the same time, they are still in the position, of what she termed, a middle income country. With that in mind, there are many countries who feel comfortable with China, because they share the same problems: inequality, poverty, how to provide a safety social net, & challenges on rebuilding their own fiscal system to more modern one.’
Though there were other panelist, and a slew of additional remarks, I’ll conclude with remarks from Jianye Wang. His comments were ‘China’s foreign trade so far this year continues its robust performance, despite a marked slow down in developing markets, including US & Europe.
Interestingly, China’s import merchandising growth has been increasing 30% year on year; whereas, export growth has significantly been lower than import growth; but still robust & in double digits. However, China’s leadership in exports is from merchandising. When it comes to goods & services, Europe takes the top spot; & US is probably ahead of China.’
Ultimately, the principles articulated in the WIF and surge of economic power from China can be a roadmap for a city like Charlotte, NC. So, let me share some global and local matters applicable to this city, landmarks of opportunities within the above context.
One starts with the economics. There are multiple industries, which include the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Arts District in Uptown; a Bio-Hub and National Whitewater Center in surrounding areas; major banking presence and reasonable housing appreciation; cheap public transportation to routes of NYC, Atlanta, Orlando, and Memphis, to name a few; numerous parks, walking areas, outdoor eateries, and good weather does not hurt either; a solid presence of professional sports, i.e. Charlotte Motor Speedway (NASCAR), the Carolina Panthers (NFL), Charlotte Bobcats (NBA), Charlotte Knights (Minor League Baseball), & Charlotte Checkers (Minor League Hockey); and worldwide entertainers seeing the area as a benefit to holding concerts and other public functions. Collectively, a drawing card for attracting individuals and businesses, to live, operate, and tour.
However, Charlotte lacks the requisite number of year-round attractions, inclusive of an annual marquee event; to further illustrate the roadmaps for cities with world renowned entertainment attractions, one can examine: ' the taste of Chicago,' 'mardi gras in New Orleans,' 'gambling in Las Vegas,' and 'broadway in New York.'
What we are speaking about is growth. Appropriately, arguments, on growth, suggest power and choices are too limited, in the hands of a few; versus a wider range layout, i.e. cross sections of community input. Such new emphases might tender a more engaged constituency, a continual collection of novel efforts, and advancement for well-understood processes.
If there is any doubt to a need for broader consensus or inclusion, one need only look at the ‘Occupy Wall Street movement.’ In recalling, On September 17, 2011, a leaderless movement started. They called themselves Occupy Wall St. By November 17, 2011, they expanded, according to their summary, to over 100 US cities and 1500 cities globally.
They echo an underlying sentiment of why things for the many are not better. They speak to why people of learned profession, in political offices and corporate leadership, are focused on inaction, at a time when solutions are needed.
This brings us into one of the national debates, promoting entrepreneurship because it accounts for the most new jobs. Within these notions, there exists a powerful and quiet debate raging. Some say entrepreneurship is the way to go; others continue to speak to a conceptual 9 to 5 position.
The actual debate, in my opinion, has become misplaced and misleading. The ultimate goal we strive for is success, per our own definition. More profoundly, for likely a multiple of hundreds of years, very few made such a choice. Rather, one usually held a job, and then added a side hustle or two or three or more. I refer to it as a ‘hybrid business model.’
Each side provided their respective benefits; mutually complementing the other, by way of skills, enjoyment, income, freedoms, etc. Sometimes, the side gig, unencumbered, was or became more lucrative than the main employment. And given today’s economic challenges, more people are doing both.
Owning a business and working for someone, the ‘new business model’ from the WIF, China’s surge in dominance, and support garnered by participants of Occupy Wall Street, lend a birds-eye-view to a stronger cause. The fundamental issue of inquiry deals with the basic rights not to have contracts or employment interfered with or the thrust of mandates by rogue groups, especially to push careers or lifestyles or geographic upon a person or segment of society.
Imagine the damage, if phone communications, of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Barack Obama, had limited their incoming & outgoing phone calls at will; or fostered an environment of phony internet service, to essentially control their online activity everyday, along with potential jobs/business dealings and the potential for socializing.
Remember the commercial: kids in two countries interact, without leaving their classrooms, courtesy of internet. Applied to a business or individual hustle, the internet affords a way to advertise cheaply, and reap new customer orders. Furthermore, info can be gathered in both timeliness and abundance. The availability of the internet is critical and its security is paramount.
The ideal worker & business owner is served better to think in terms of overall cultural inclusion, as the combination of best workers and most customers mean potential rewards & profits. As a result, there is something inherently wrong with the racial mindset or thinking of anyone, among any culture or segment, who attempts to force someone to work in, say: a school/youth system doing recruitment or counseling; a law/commando administrative role, a religious ministerial position, or a mandated entertainment/talent scout position, to the exclusion of that person's desires & by way of a breach of privacy/civil liberties.
There is no high salary and no made-up public adoration that can compensate for such disdaining action. It is so egregious, in the notion of what is good for society as a whole, these type acts should take on criminal sanctions, involving jail time. The remarks by many on presentations of ‘cyber security,’ alone, give credibility for making this last point.
If there were any doubts, the WIF and Global China Summit confirms that our recent times of economic challenges are as much opportunity windows, for all of us. It is especially true for cities and regions. The common boxes for prosperity might still hold some relevance; but, we need multiple layering that continually inserts new and upcoming trends of growth potential.
The surgical addition of a full service casino complex in Uptown Charlotte, coupled with a rail system, linked in an octagon set-up, can solidify the extra economic touch, ideal for the Charlotte region; and perhaps, some tweaking of certain laws to promote such indulgence. Notably, this is not about changing the character or ideology of a way of life.
Currently, there are many promoting the themes of a major storefront and or mall for Uptown. However, many people ponder whether the availability of storefronts & street vendors, during evening hours, like the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA or those of Charleston, SC or long ago in Harlem, NY on 125th street, prove the better direction to compliment the recent surge in residential and entertainment venues. Also, another means to increase daily tourism.
The ultimate diversity of the Charlotte economy cannot escape the need for optimal property and land availability, motivated by effective strategies. This must intersect the melting pot of cultural movement and world changes, i.e. green emphasis.
Any placation from investors, who have chosen to remodel buildings or reorganize their uses in current business zones, without encroaching upon natural wildlife areas, should be applauded. It’s a simple reason that becomes good, by taking a blighted display out of the city, while maintaining a green scene.
No matter the circumstances, the economy needs people to have jobs & confidence of sustainability; business will always desire assurance of a solid and growing customer base; and we all need a government, at all levels, to offer protection in being our fiscal steward.
Each group can continue to walk into the chamber of debates with their own self interest, ignoring logic or reason to craft pragmatic solutions; perhaps, the blindness being an inclusion of deep seated clutching for greed, power, or survival. But, a commanding voice must raise the mantle of consensus building.
Hence, an ideal goal is to work with organizations and individuals on updating current processes or evaluating new ones; all for the purpose of reassessing, restrategizing, and retooling operations. In the end, Charlotte, NC, with many reasons of importance, landed the 2012 Democratic Convention.