“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may discern what is the will of God” – Romans 12:2

I was trained in Mathematics, Statistical Science and then Operational Research (OR) (or Operations Research), depending on which side of the Atlantic you were trained. OR is a science which deals with problem formulation, solutions and finally appropriate decision making. This subject started after World War II, when scientists and technocrats formed teams to study the problems arising out of difficult situations with the view of providing solutions to these problems. My professional career has therefore not unexpectedly been focussed on problem solving in an attempt to effect transformation in the Caribbean and I have been many times cast in the role of project manager.

The desired end result is a transformation of the nation where we are seeking to achieve sustainable development to enhance socio-economic well-being of the populace. We must embrace change, which is the only thing constant in life. It is not surprising, therefore, that over the last ten years my focus has been on enterprise development, one successful enterprise after another. I have opted for the sobriquet “change-engine consultant”, incidentally with fascination and significant marketing benefits as would be clients read my business card.

Problem solving is the process of analysing situations of uncertainty to produce actual improvements or changes in the situation. The problem solving process comprises many different elements that can be used in varying degrees depending on the problem to be solved. Typical elements of the process are: (1) problem definition (the initial attempt to understand the problem); (2) Situation analysis (further understanding of the problem and determining the levels of attendant risks if the problem is not solved); (3) Idea generation (strategies which provide potential solutions); (4) Analysis of these strategies (to determine viability); (5) Decision making (the basis on which change is made); and (6) Implementation (determining the systematic evolutionary process to introduce a practicable solution).

In small states and emerging nations, like Barbados, we are desirous of making inroads into sustainable development. This may be manifested in terms of spiritual awareness, protection of the physical environment, social harmony, cultural maturity and economic growth. These elements of sustainable development are all important in the sense that if we do not pay attention to any one of them, that might be the one that frustrates your attempt at achieving the goal.

We must therefore be directly connected to God and understand the power of the magnificent spiritual gift which pervades our every being. We have to understand the impact of the side effects of our decisions on the physical environment and be disciplined enough to make responsible decisions that would protect planet earth for future generations. Social harmony is peaceful interaction of human dynamics among members of a social group or groups. Basic survival and subsistence families or complex societies develop and thrive on some form of social harmony. Each member of a social group must have a formula for optimal health, positive belief systems and resistance to negative temptations. The collective impact of the actions of all individuals will redound to the benefit of the overall community.

Cultural maturity can best be exemplified by a statement by Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kwan Yew, who said that the ultramodern city-state he built is every bit a First World nation but the state should not rest on its laurels until there are clean public toilets (this expresses care for your fellow man) and arts, including music, in all schools (this reveals an appreciation of the finer things in life).

Last but not least is economic growth which involves the productive sectors (private sector driven) and the supporting enabling environment (public sector led). In the Barbadian context, we need new visions, we need paradigm shifts, to transform our thinking about the tourism, food, sugar cane, cotton, manufacturing, cultural industries and green energy sectors; one enterprise after another. We have an entrepreneurship development problem and we need to apply the problem solving process, described above, more diligently and effectively if we want to transform our society and maintain and enhance our standard of living.

When an aircraft takes off from “standing still” much energy has to be expended to get it to its cruising altitude of 30,000 feet or whatever it may be. Relatively little energy is required to maintain it in cruising mode. However, the aircraft has a destination and it must descend to a “standing still” position at the destination. Significant energy is also required for this manoeuvre.

In seeking a solution to the problem of accelerated economic growth many resources have to be expended to get start-up enterprises to a “cruising altitude” and it may take several years to achieve this. This money comes from public and private sector investors, who expect an economic and financial return on investment, respectively. If we adopt the CBET Shepherding Model™, where shepherding mitigates the risk of business failure, then the “cruising altitude” concept becomes very realistic. Unlike the aircraft analogy, returning to “a standing still position at the destination” is not defined and the business can soar in perpetuity as investors “make money while they sleep”.

We must transform our thinking from “jobs” to “opportunities”. The Information Age has presented us with many opportunities to “make money while we sleep”. Start by surfing the Net at http://www.escapingthe9to5.com.