The US and the world flutter on the edge of a curve.
Major economic and societal shifts only appear once in a generation. We appear to be approaching our pivotal moment.
The US has returned to economic strength. It took a decade to beat our way back from a harrowing global recession. Triggered by profligate US financiers repackaging and either miscalculating or misrepresenting the risks of inflated mortgage debt, we were fortunate for the rapid response and aggressive tactics applied by the prior administration, Treasury and Fed.
The US fell first. Western Europe only now finally rises from its knees, staggered by the one-two kidney punches of debt-burdened Greece and Spain. Asia and developing economies worldwide continue to strengthen.
The clock ticks.
It took a long time to get moving. Now, at least historically, we’ve run out the clock. A decade of recovery and improving performance is about all that history teaches us to expect from any economic cycle. US stocks are radiating heat. Bitcoin bubbles. Correction can’t be far behind. Our accidental anarchist in the White House, claiming the brilliance of a corrective that was applied in 2009, will first ignore, lie about, fail to understand, and ultimately disavow the looming downturn. (“It’s Hillary’s fault!”)
To add insult to injury, the current powers compound the delayed impact of the tax plan (ie unsustainable debt) by dropping the leash on the slathering dogs of finance. The “market friendly” GOP have invited another feeding frenzy of risk without repercussion (well, except for the taxpayer as insurer of last resort).
This may be the fastest cycle of misguided macroeconomics to drive a repeat catastrophe since the Weimar Republic. I hope I’m wrong. Strong voices may prevail in time.
Your work matters.
Our toil, as always, holds the answer. Purposeful work matters. We all need the whole Maslovian stack. We work for food. But we live for meaning. I believe our efforts to “make better“, to create value, earn our daily bread, bring home the bacon, sustain us in hard times and through hard transitions.
As you look at your colleagues at work, and think about what matters in the year ahead, how do you rank these four areas of importance. If you hope to promote further growth, and you could only pick one of these, where would you focus, and why? I don’t mean this rhetorically. Please comment below. I’m dying to hear from you:d
a. Purpose: align your organization around a powerful aspiration (e.g. growth agenda)
b. Priority: focus on the best growth opportunities (e.g. innovation strategy)
c. Innovation: serve new needs in new ways (e.g. product/service/experience design)
d. Capability: equip teams to deeply understand and meaningfully serve customer needs (e.g. design thinking skills, user research, digital design, market analytics)
e. Other: ____________________
With thanks for sharing. Best wishes for a fantastic, focused and fulfilling year ahead. Who knows. Maybe we can beat back the beast.