InTouch: Standing in the future

In the past 20 years, New Zealand has gone from being the OECD’s third most indebted country to enjoying its third year in the OECD’s top five with exports now totalling 70 percent of its GDP.
Really? Well – it is 2029 and Auckland is hosting IBM’s “smarter countries world congress” with (now elderly) business commentator Rod Oram presenting the keynote address to an audience some 25 percent of whom are present only in virtual form. As well as celebrating the unique business model that just earned Auckland-based Min Te Ua the Nobel Prize in Economics (not to mention Tana Umaga’s recent appointment to the top role at the UN), he’s charting the path that led to such Kiwi success.
How did we shift from low value, low wage country running chronic trade and investment deficits? How did we overcome the “crime of consumption” campaigns levelled at excessively well-travelled goods – or carbon-heavy tourism?
Well – as befits down-under nation, the solutions came from turning lot of perceived problems on their heads. Instead of lamenting our small, distant-nation hurdles, we started recognising we could generate our own distinctively different solutions. Closed cycle farming systems turned what was once perceived as waste into useful nutrients; carbon mile problems hastened the development of innovative aviation biofuels; the low density/poor infrastructure paradigm became low density-high connectivity lifestyle solution – and so on.
Fundamental drivers for the shift included our environmental science, the strength of our international relations, our diverse culture, our good leadership at community and grassroots level, our strategic resilience and the strong alliances we’ve built around the world.
“Out of this,” says Oram, “some vision began to emerge. We could feed the world through agro-science and fishing; we could build the world through education research, consultancy, governance, social justice and peacekeeping; we could green the world through sustainable natural capitalism – bringing the ecosystem onto the balance sheets of business and governments so we could handle it much better; we could enliven the world through all sorts of entertainment.”
So we developed some “truly inspired products and services” offering unique value, originality born out of New Zealand roots – using our science for innovating and creativity, smart strategies for international markets and the astute management skills needed to bring together people, technology and money to do what needed to be done. We leveraged our competence and skills to collaborate with partners, buyers and customers anywhere in the world; became large commodity farmers around the world but concentrated here on the very high end of the primary sector – such as lacto pharmaceuticals. And we pioneered the rise of the mini-multinational model that earned Min Te Ua the Nobel Prize.
Oram’s “standing in the future” speech was fitting kick-off to an IBM Forum focused on developing “smart” solutions to many of the problems caused by increasing urbanisation and overloaded infrastructure. In conjunction with technology that enabled interactive participation, it was bit of fun – but delivered with strong dose of aspiration.
“Being half world away from some major customers,” says Oram, “gives us distinctive view on the world. When we are true to that in business and society, originality informs and enlivens all we do – then we’re brilliant, we’re world class.”

Visited 5 times, 1 visit(s) today

Business benefits of privacy

Privacy Week (13-17 May) is a great time to consider the importance of privacy and to help ensure you and your company have good privacy practices in place, writes Privacy

Read More »
Close Search Window