Why This Blog?
This is a blog about what it will take for American businesses to be successful in the 21st century. In my view, global competitive dynamics, for the first time in my memory, no longer favor U.S. enterprises. The favored economies for this coming era will be on the western shores of the Pacific, not ours. That is where the most vibrant home market will be, where the largest population of do-whatever-it-takes entrepreneurs will come from, where the education advantage will build, where the public policy will be most business favorable, where the capital markets will increasingly gravitate.
From the point of view of world peace, this is a terrific outcome. Creating large middle classes is the most stabilizing contribution economics can make to social welfare. By outsourcing large amount of work to China and India, U.S. enterprises accomplished what U.S. foreign policy never could—they realigned global interests to reinforce rather than undermine the values of liberal democracy and free markets. Outsourcing injected the necessary nutrients of jobs, capital, and customer relationships. Now the indigenous organizations are self-organizing to come into their own and to develop a local economy that will first match and eventually exceed their export markets. This, in turn, will attract an influx of labor from surrounding failed states, and a second tier of outsourcing will eventually evolve, increasingly marginalizing the outposts of terrorism. Of course, there will be all kinds of grief along the way, but the trend is excellent.
That all said, from the point of view of business executives and entrepreneurs in the U.S., the winds of competitive advantage have shifted. For the entirety of the twentieth century we had the home court advantage—we had the largest most homogeneous market the world had ever known, supported by the best educational systems, the most nimble capital markets, the most forgiving and entrepreneurial of cultures. Now in this century we will be ceding some—albeit not all—of these advantages to other countries. We will be sailing into the wind, not with it, and thus we can no longer count on our old rules to guide us properly. Hence the focus of this blog: New rules.
What is it going to take for us to generate the kinds of revenues and margins needed to support a way of life to which we have truly become accustomed? We know how to win home games: what will it take for us to win away games, the way Toyota has learned to do in automotives, SAP in enterprise software, Nestle in consumer packaged goods? How will we avoid the entanglement of entitlements that have held back a GM, a Delphi, a United Airlines? What is our sustainable competitive advantage in the new system—Marketing? Ideation? Financing? What forms of innovation will be most called up—Product? Process? Experiential? What do we insource and what do we outsource, and how do we move between the two modes?
These are the questions that will drive this blog. My hope is that you will weigh in on them, and that together we can help chart the new century.