EDITORIAL Age is Unrelenting

It is inevitable, I suppose, that someone of my vintage would view Harvard Business Review headline like “The Young and the Clueless” with just twinge of sympathy for the implication it contained. Would these clever young upstarts be exposed for what they are – clever, aggressive, creative young bullies muscling us wise, distinguished or tinted grey heads out of all the best executive positions? Certainly it sounded some cautionary notes about promoting too quickly through the ranks. It concluded by offering small solace in the sentence; “Indeed, there’s no substitute for experience, reflection, feedback, and, above all, practice”. The whole episode got me thinking about age and so led inevitably to our cover story this month.

Age is, as our associate editor Vicki Jayne points out, “an unrelenting sort of process”. Given that reality, it’s surprising how little attention our leaders and planners pay to it when making decisions about the future, about infrastructures and about societal needs. We have an ageing population which is, “like slow-breaking wave”, about to crash over us. Jayne found herself asking the questions: are we prepared? She found that policies and attitudes toward more mature members of the workforce lag lamentably behind the demographic reality that their replacement pool is steadily shrinking.

Jayne has pulled together the strands of demographic evidence and attempted to paint picture of our changing future and the impacts these age-related changes will have. New Zealand’s future population patterns will mirror some other economies but it will also be different. We have both “boomers” and “blippers” to think about. To know more about who they are and how they will contribute to our home-grown age crisis read her cover story.

Unlike our politicians and planners, strategy thinker and management guru Gary Hamel does lot of looking ahead. And this month he offered Management magazine some thoughts about the future of business and the way managers must adapt to succeed. The ’90s, he says, won’t happen again. They were an aberration in which executives relied on “a rising economic tide to float their boat”. The tide is now receding. Companies should not mistake what happened in the ’90s decade as “real innovation”. It was all product of the “dealmakers and the dream merchants”. He then outlines his three principles for moving forward. There is, of course, lots more to read in this issue so go to it.

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