“She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple” – Proverbs 31:21-22
Delighting in the joy of the Christmas season what with family, friends, festivity, food and frolicking, one must transition to the reality of the coming year. We are of course aware that, because of the fuel, food and financial crises, it will not be business as usual. The early warning signals have been sounded such as this one attributed to The World Bank “The effects of the global economic slowdown are likely to be more pronounced in the Caribbean and other developing countries in 2009”. The sensible reaction is “To be Prepared”. Whenever those words “Be Prepared” are proclaimed, for me there is an immediate flash back to my Boy Scout days. Indeed, “Be Prepared” is the motto of the Boy Scouts. To take an excerpt from the Boy Scout Handbook 1998 edition, someone once asked Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, “Be prepared for what?” “Why, for any old thing.” He said. The training you receive in your troop will help you live up to the Scout motto. When someone has an accident, you are prepared because of your first aid instruction. Because of lifesaving practice, you might be able to save a non swimmer who has fallen into deep water. But Baden-Powell wasn’t thinking just of being ready for emergencies. His idea was that all Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and to give happiness to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body for any struggles, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead. Be prepared for life – to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best. That’s what the Scout motto means. This advice is well heeded by all of us, not only those who have made the pledge as Boy Scouts. Those who have been formally exposed to marketing techniques would undoubtedly be aware of the 4Ps of marketing – product, promotion, price and place on which the science of marketing is built. Perhaps less familiar are the 7Ps. What do the 7Ps stand for? The answer – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pitiful Poor Performance. If we are going to be prepared then we must bear these 7Ps in mind. In 2009 we want to prevent pitiful poor performance, we must therefore take action now to mitigate the impact of the financial “tsunami” which we hear is coming. Economic forecasting is not an exact science but a word to the wise is sufficient. My own view is that we should pay attention to broad edicts from the World Bank and other international institutions but we should also realise that “one shoe does not fit all”. I think that a statement like “The effects of the global economic slowdown are likely to be more pronounced in the Caribbean and other developing countries in 2009” is incomplete and what should be added is “if you continue to do things the same way as you did them before”. There are many developing countries in the world. The Caribbean countries, population wise are among the smallest. Why do we not think positively and build on the concept that “Small is Beautiful”. Why do we not think outside of the box, why do we not attempt to do things differently and recognise that the only way to prepare for the economic tsunami is to creatively work our way to develop one innovative enterprise after the other, using all the technological resources that are available to us in this information age. In small countries, the supply potential is relatively limited (e.g. the number of hotel rooms, the number of mouths to be fed). In Barbados, in particular, the intellectual capital per capita is relatively high but the productivity is relatively low. This presents a leadership challenge, but we can overcome. Let us do Proper Prior Planning, let us strategically chart our course – sector by sector – one enterprise after another. Let us mobilise our holistic capital – our spiritual, intellectual, human, social, cultural, physical, natural and financial capital: (1)Recognise that we are not alone in the journey, He is there to protect us; (2) Educate the population in the technologies that will propel us into the future; (3) train our people in the skills that will enhance the capacity to supply our preferred markets; (4) encourage the strengthening of our social fabric by putting family first; (5) develop a culture that shall eventually become our unique selling proposition; (6) mobilise our physical assets in the reduce, reuse and recycle process; (7) optimise the use of our arable land and exploit our renewable energy resources to the fullest; (8) efficiently use our scarce financial capital to obtain the best benefit per unit cost. Do not be afraid of the impact of the economic tsunami on our country, ensure that all our households are effectively clothed with the garments needed to effect holistic protection. May your days be peaceful, pleasant and prosperous and may you be confident in your planning which will yield you a bountiful new year.