"See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them." - Isaiah 42:9 My last column on "Innovation and Economic Growth" stimulated some interesting thoughts which resulted in many responses. I shall share them with you in this week's column. (1) "Good stuff! Let me say: I believe Godpreneurs are a major part of the growth of a country's Innovation and GNP. Here is why? Innovation and wealth creation are birthed from ideas. Ideas come from nothing. Only God can create from nothing. Therefore all ideas come from God. Godpreneurs, who are driven to answer real human needs not simply the bottom-line, seek God for the answers. God gives the ideas which solve the human need. Some call the ideas hunches. The Godpreneurs call them revelations. Something to think about!" I replied: "I like the Godpreneur concept and advised that I have augmented the Shepherding concept from life coaching and business mentoring to include Theo-economics and community service." (2) "Interesting article. I read somewhere that, yes, small businesses create more jobs; however isn't' it the case that small businesses also shed more jobs, so that the net effect is that small businesses create a loss in employment when we look at the numbers on an annual basis?" I replied: " You may be right. There is therefore greater justification for the Shepherding process which mitigates the risk of business failure." (3) "I sincerely hope that we may have opportunity in the future to debate in more depth, and at more leisure, the top-down/bottom-up models of economic drivers. I sincerely believe that there is room for both models as part of a dynamic economic ecosystem as both need an availability drive demand. "For instance Basil's excellent analogy of the cruise ship is clearly correct as an example of a top-down, demand-driven model, significantly driving the activities of the cafes, taxi drivers, car hire etc. At the same time, the flexibility and speed with which smaller companies can innovate, without the 'bloated management systems' (Mike Templeman) of the larger companies, can drive economic development by making attractive products/services available to the public (through the manufacturing, marketing and distribution channels of larger partners) which they may not previously have been aware that they needed. The availability of the product (e.g. tablet computers or mobile telephones) drives the consumer wish list, and therefore economic growth. "I appreciate that these are two very simple examples, but they suggest to me that there is indeed a half-way house, or at least some 'part-way position' where both models can successfully co-exist, and indeed thrive based on the dynamism of both models co-existing within the aforementioned ecosystem. "As a final thought, I am not sure that 'Ideas come from nothing'. My immediate response, and therefore without the due consideration that this suggestion deserves, would be to posit that ideas come from the totality of one's own experience, education, circumstances etc., and with a hint of happen-chance (magic dust) thrown in for good measure. "I say this as a committed God-fearing man, so therefore am not dismissing the suggestion that '..all ideas come from God', because of any form of anti-religious bigotry. Nothing could be further from the truth as I believe that all things ultimately come from God. I simply feel that we as intelligent humans are proactive in terms of having and developing ideas, not needing to turn to God and simply wait for a moment of revelation. God helps those who help themselves. Anyway, that is a little hand-grenade to drop into the debate!!" (4) "Great discussion... allow me to add what the scriptures teach: 'faith without works is dead'..." (5) "Very topical issue. Innovation is essential to economic growth. Whenever I discuss economic growth however the issue of sustainability must be included. Even China recognizes that now. Smaller companies may indeed generally be more nimble in terms of innovation but the innovation process is also cultural and can be nurtured by an enabling environment. "When larger companies buy up smaller ones to get access to their innovations it is a win-win as the smaller companies sometimes cannot access the investment needed to get their innovations to market. One of the missing ingredients in Caribbean development is the innovation culture. You can examine that for yourself." May the dialogue continue! In 2001, when I introduced the Caribbean Business Enterprise Initiative (CBEI) as a Caribbean Development Bank consultancy output, it was specifically stated that the CBEI would be focussing on businesses which, although in the start-up phase and necessarily small, would have "DNA of an elephant" characteristics, i.e. the potential to grow and make a meaningful contribution to the region's development. I have been privileged to present these concepts globally and, invariably, the audience has been fascinated by the term "DNA of an elephant" and its companion the "DNA of an ant" as they refer to the characteristics of a business idea and particularly when they learn than these two species can live together in harmony in an "Economic gearing system". I was therefore thrilled when a colleague pointed out to me, last week, that Trinidadian economist Dr. Terrence W. Farrell, in his book "The Underachieving Society" (2012)", stated: "Manufacturing plants need to be world-scale and other businesses need to scale up quickly. They must have the 'DNA of an elephant'." This is exactly what we are about to facilitate as we embark on the execution of the Global Business Innovation Corporation's Caribbean Food Business Innovation Revolution. Let us embrace the winds of change and let them propel us to discover new horizons which we could not even imagine. Onward soldiers!
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