“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” – Philippians 1:6
Traditionally, the factors of production were materials, manpower and money. On the advent of the information age, a fourth factor “knowledge” was introduced along with a new discipline of knowledge management. Knowledge Management is the set of professional practices which improves the capabilities of the organisation’s human resources and enhances their ability to share what they know.
As we traverse the space from the traditional to the modern, we observe not only the trend in which the knowledge revolution has impacted and improved the traditional sectors but also new types of industry have emerged. An amalgam of both these trends is what is likely to be the economy of the future in Barbados, the Caribbean and beyond.
The industries, on which our country was originally built, were: agriculture; then came the industrial revolution which introduced manufacturing; then we decided to exploit the hospitality related resources with which we were naturally endowed and which led to the tourism industry; then legal and financial gurus conceived of the International Business industry; and now we are poised to look at the services sector as we enter the new dawn of “sunrise” industries.
These new industries include renewable energy, consulting, exotic agricultural exports, high tech manufacturing and the creative industries. In the creative industries, primarily talented right brain resources come alive and present the challenge to convert them into sustainable business enterprises. The creative industries include music, culinary art, fashion, art, drama and film. It is worth repeating that sustainable economic growth in any country can only happen one successful enterprise after another; and behind each enterprise there has to be an entrepreneur who has the passion, drive, confidence and persistence to stay with the idea until it has reached maturity and who also recognizes the need to partner with leadership and management resources along the journey to success. In addition, we need fuel to successfully undertake any journey in life and in particular the entrepreneur requires some form of financial energy as part of the package of resources to reach the destination.
Today, I want to focus on the people aspect of these resources because without people, enterprises are not defined. We want to avoid a manpower crisis by addressing the opportunities that are provided. The entrepreneur’s idea must be nourished by people (and money) for it to have a chance to succeed. There are different types of people that are required: (1) the talent that has come up with the idea; (2) the leadership which determines the wall against which the ladder will be placed (to use a Peter Drucker analogy); (3) the management which determines the efficiency (productivity) with which one can climb the ladder; and (4) the staff which are required to ensure that the production and distribution processes are sufficiently well lubricated to ensure ultimate customer satisfaction.
Where are the constraints? (1) Our recent experience in Barbados, where we have attempted to attracted entrepreneurs with ideas which have the DNA of an elephant (i.e. the potential to satisfy global markets way beyond the shores of Barbados), has been extremely gratifying in the sense that there is no shortage of new scalable ideas; (2) The available leadership talent, as long as one is prepared to reach outside the geographical boundaries of Barbados is not a limiting factor; (3) The management pool, however, has to be nurtured – institutions have already emerged which offer training to those who are in need, but there should be a growing sophistication in the design of these courses so that the offerings are synchronized with the growing manpower needs of the day; (4) One dire need which is voiced by managers in almost every business sector is the need to improve the quality of staff in terms of their training, attitude, orientation to service excellence, awareness of consumer needs and the recognition of the benefit of continuous improvement to the attainment of their own sustainable futures.
Even if we were to be successful in addressing all these needs, the process of management is cyclical, so that one has to be continually planning, organising, augmenting staff, redirecting these resources, and what is most important is a system of quantitative recording and analysis (a dashboard system) which allows us to quickly determine whether our objectives have been achieved. If they are then there must be an effective rewards system, since we all like to have our egos massaged. If per chance the objectives have not been achieved, then we need to take corrective action and to adjust our plan strategically and tactically in order to successfully ride cycle after cycle on the waves of environmental change.
Do not underestimate the ability of primary school children to absorb important concepts of entrepreneurship, management and money – impart knowledge at an early age.
John Maxwell gave some advice – Be secure. If you allow your insecurities to get the better of you, you shall be inflexible…and you cannot grow without change. Get to know yourself and your gifts. Ask for feedback. Do what it takes to remove personal blind spots. Trust your leader to help you to start moving in the right direction…See the big picture…Rely on your experience. The only way to know that you have discovered your niche is to try what seems right and learn from your failures and successes. When you discover what you were made for, your heart sings.