“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets… For there is still a vision for the appointed time” – Habakkuk 2:2,3

The phrase “taking stock of the future” conjures up in my mind visions of “sustainable development”. As we are often reminded the term sustainable development was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable development is therefore multi-faceted and encompasses spiritual, environmental, economic, social and cultural concerns.

Future Shock is a book written by the futurist Alvin Toffler in 1970. In the book, Toffler defines the term “future shock” as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. His shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of “too much change in too short a period of time”. The book, which became an international bestseller, grew out of an article “The Future as a Way of Life” in Horizon magazine, Summer1965 issue.

Toffler argued that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society”. This change overwhelms people, he believed, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”—future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems are symptoms of future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock he popularized the term “information overload”. His analysis of the phenomenon of information overload is continued in his later publications, especially The Third Wave and Powershift.

The way to take stock of the future is to continually prepare our children to embrace the vision of sustainable development as one generation gradually takes over from its predecessor. Or, in the words of the song “The Greatest Love of all”: I believe the children are our future, Teach them well and let them lead the way, Show them all the beauty they possess inside, Give them a sense of pride to make it easier, Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

Last Wednesday at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Barbados South, guest Motivational Speaker, Mr Tony Olton, stimulated the minds of the audience as he delivered an address on Emotional Intelligence, introducing the concept of the Emotional Quotient (EQ) as an indicator of success in the development of the child.

In developing the emotional aspects of their children, especially at home, parents have a great responsibility. The environment created by the parents, complemented by the school, religious and peer environments, plays a very important role in the development of the children’s Emotional Quotient (EQ). Furthermore, how parents behave in their daily lives subconsciously affects the behaviour of the children. A self-confident child usually comes from the family filled with encouragement and praising rather than scolding and punishment. Likewise, helpful children mostly learn to behave in a similar way to their parents. The Intelligence Quotient, on the other hand, is an indicator used to predict educational achievement.

For many years, researchers have devoted a great deal of their studies to Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ), which are considered to be determinants of success and superior accomplishment. In 1997, Paul Stoltz introduced a new yet interesting & intriguing concept – Adversity Quotient (AQ), which measures how well one persists in the face of adversity and one’s ability to triumph over it. By understanding the concept of AQ we can better understand how we and others react to challenge and adversity in all aspects of our lives. In fact, how people respond to adversity is a strong indicator of ability to succeed in many endeavours. It is reported that more researches have recently shown that measurement of AQ is a better index, than IQ or EQ, in achieving ultimate overall future success.

A challenge that is faced today is “how do we accelerate the growth of the economies of the world?” One obvious strategy is to be innovative and introduce start-up businesses preferably those which have the potential for exponential growth. However, the business failure rate of start-up businesses globally is “90% in the first four to five years of operation”. A daunting statistic if ever there was one, especially when one realises that these ideas never see the light of day and the economy is robbed of the potential contributions from these enterprises. What is the reason for this high failure rate? What can we do to resolve it?

The high failure rate, in my opinion, is due to a weakness in the understanding of business management as it applies to a business, in a comprehensive sense; and the lack of timely access to appropriate financial resources. As far as business management is concerned one is tempted to ask, why with so many MBA graduates the world over, this daunting failure rate statistic still prevails? A colleague of mine pointed out last week that the MBA courses traditionally train resources to manage business which are well established and the needs of start-ups are often ignored in the MBA programmes. I hope that there are MBA programmes which are exceptions to this.

The resolution of this high failure rate is very important as we take stock of the future. Therefore, special attention must be given to innovative business management solutions as well as innovative financial solutions, preferably in my opinion, with a venture capital focus.