Ed’s Letter: Scarcity & abundance

On the face of it, we’re focusing on scarcity in this issue. We’re homing in on future world in which water will be in short supply and teasing out what that could mean for New Zealand and its leaders in business and beyond. For, unsettling though the thought may be, it’s time we all start to face up to future in which access to clean water is likely to be far more fraught than we have ever known it to be.
We could have picked any number of examples of probable future scarcity. Oil, gas, fish, and many other essential foods are distributed unevenly around the globe. For the most part, here in New Zealand we’ve already got what we need or are pretty good at sourcing what we don’t have. Problem is, we’re also pretty good at squandering some of our best resources too: water being prime example.
Yet, I’d argue that this issue of NZ Management explores the polar opposite of scarcity. It’s celebration of the abundance that manifests itself at every turn if we only know where to look and how to tap into it. It’s all about the opportunities that surround us as we chart new and different future together.
As world leaders gear up to meet at the Rio+20 environmental summit in June, for example, we’re focusing on one radically different option that comes teaming with possibilities. Cradle to cradle thinking draws on lessons from nature to show how products can be designed from the outset to provide nourishment for something new even after their own demise. What’s more, it works (page 44).
And we review Richard Branson’s new book Screw business as usual in which he displays generosity of spirit that is quite extraordinary. I reckon if I ever got to sit down and chat with Richard Branson he’d tell me he’s just an ordinary bloke trying to do the best he can.
Such spirit of generous authenticity was why it was such joy to join Leadership New Zealand one recent Friday evening to help them welcome whole new raft of mid-career leaders to their 2012 programme (see pictures on page 14).
Their generous authenticity shows how the best partnerships slip from relationship to friendship and ultimately settle as sense of family. It’s why the word whanau booms with resonance in this tiny part of the planet. It’s about finding that sweet spot where robust debate and differences are part and parcel of everyday life and we all know that, testing as they may be, they come wrapped with the best possible motivations.
Leadership New Zealand’s heart-warming celebration made for the best possible start to weekend which propelled me out of Auckland the next day to tackle the Okataina West walkway with family and then over to the Bay of Plenty coast to celebrate an 80th birthday (not mine, honest).
Sitting at the table cocooned by family and friends, and watching the surfers ride the Papamoa waves, I felt deep sense of abundance and, indeed, hope for our collective future. That’s just one of the abundant pleasures of being in New Zealand.

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