This article is a bit of a fun attempt to look at “what’s in and what’s out” in business and the economy as a result of the significant changes under way in our society and the marketplace. I welcome your comments and also ideas of your own in terms of “What’s In and What’s Out.” If you like, share the list below with others, provoke their thinking, and solicit thoughts from them. If you generate other thoughts, I’d like to see them. At CFEE, we’ll look to expand and revise this list and share it with our audiences – especially with our youth audience to think about.
Determining what’s fashionable and trendy isn’t restricted to the garment industry. Pundits often ponder and predict what’s in and what’s out in such fields as dining, housing, cars and child-rearing. Frequently overlooked by trend forecasters is the area of business and the economy.
Any regular reader of business papers and periodicals will be aware that the worlds of fashion, fad and funk are also alive and well on Bay Street and related avenues across our country and other industrialized nations. “What’s in” in business and the economy is not trivial, however. Major ramifications for planning, hiring, investing, merging and integrating result from trends and the evolution of “what’s in.”
What’s out: Conformity – Don’t worry about doing what others do and doing it the same way they do. What’s in: Divergence and innovation: Be new, different, innovative. Demonstrate that you have a unique, better approach.
What’s out: Right answers – Don’t just give the answers that everyone knows are right and everyone has heard before. The QWERTY configuration – the top row of keys on the old typewriter keyboard – was a right answer – designed to slow down the typist so keys wouldn’t stick together. We still use it on our computers – that have no keys! ! A “right answer” from the past that has been left unchallenged. What’s in: New and better right answers – We need to challenge existing right answer. What’s in are answers that demonstrate a new approach and respond to problems, needs and issues more effectively than other answers have done in the past.
What’s out: Following the Rules of the Past – Don’t just do what you’re told to do and what has always been done. This may be necessary in some areas but it’s certainly not hot. What’s in: Entrepreneurial thinkers – Creativity is sought out and valued. Bring forth new ideas and approaches to push out frontiers, explore new options and open doors to new opportunities and ideas.
What’s out: Problems – Don’t get bogged down in the negative attitudes and behaviours associated with regarding problems as problems. What’s in: Opportunities – Look at every problem as providing opportunities for improvement, better ideas, and new solutions. Bring positive and “can do” attitudes to every challenge and problem that arises.
What’s out: The status quo – Don’t accept the world as it was and is. Doing so will leave you standing at the gate, breathing the dust of those out in front. Accepting the status quo is accepting the risk of falling behind. What’s in: Change – Everything is changing, moving, twisting, turning, merging, expanding, progressing, etc. If you’re not changing, responding to change, adjusting to change – and, best yet, leading change – you’re certainly not in.
What’s out: Money – Most successful people don’t pursue their dreams and passion in a quest for money. Money is usually not the real objective and motivator. Money is a barometer of success – and is certainly welcome when it comes – but is more a measurement for success than the goal itself. What’s in: Self-Efficacy and the Reward of Accomplishment – Usually successful people are driven by a quest for personal accomplishment and achievement. If you achieve success, the money and other rewards will usually come along too. But many who achieve financial success put their money at risk again with new ventures – seeking to accomplish.
What’s out: Barriers and borders – Even leadership in the U.S., that will remain nameless, agrees that trade agreements, international partnerships, and the flow of goods and services across borders is important and wanted. Getting the agreements finalized and fair may be a challenge – but most in the world agree that creating trade barriers (not to be confused with walls) is out. What’s in: Freeing up the flow – Working through all the details is difficult but there are few if any countries in the world today that aren’t looking for trade deals and relationships that enable the flow of goods and services from one country to another. Trade – when fair and well negotiated and managed – enables a win-win scenario – and is definitely in.
What’s out: Spending = Increasingly people are recognizing that it’s time to stop spending our brains out, plunging deeper into debt, depleting our savings – along with our resources – harming our environment, and continuing to erode our economic infrastructure. What’s in: Saving and investment – It’s time to start living more within our means, reducing financial stress and anxiety, increasing our savings rates and providing the fuel for investment and regeneration. It’s time to attend to rebuilding and strengthening our personal financial foundations – along with our infrastructure and our country’s economic foundation. And that is certainly happening if you have been trying to drive the roads in almost any Canadians city these days.
What’s out: Growth – Simply expanding, growing and producing more, regardless of the ramifications and consequences for our environment, are definitely out. What’s in: Sustainable growth – Growth is good if growth can be sustained and is compatible with the environment and leaving the world we inherited of at least equal quality to future generations – and hopefully in better shape than we found it. This may be “In” – but we have a long way to go.
What’s out: Fat – Carrying extra “business weight” of any kind is out. What’s in: Lean – Being lean, agile, and responsive is in. A world of change means you better be ready for change – to both respond and lead. Carrying extra “weight” makes it harder to move.
What’s out: Polluting – Probably one of the most “out” things. What’s in: Protecting – We seem to have finally come to our senses and realized that we have a world worth protecting. It remains to be seen if we can do it.
What’s out: Pessimism – Doom and gloomers are history. They get you down – take away hope – and create inertia. What’s in: Optimism – Regardless of the challenge, it is hope and ambition that inspires and mobilizes effort. All in all, we know have a great country – and things look pretty good for the long run – we just need some hope, vision, and leadership to realize our full potential. Leveling the opportunity playing field, reducing disparity, and ensuring equitable distribution of our significant income are challenges that remain.
By Gary Rabbior
Canadian Foundation for Economic Education