A correspondent for the Economist offers an insightful assessment of the changing global economy, complete with recommendations for how companies can thrive in a perpetually disruptive environment.
Today’s dizzying pace of innovation, and the attendant economic upheaval, represents both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses and consumers alike. Vaitheeswaran (ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future, 2007, etc.) tries to make sense of the chaos by focusing on the need for an uptick in the pace of innovation, the frighteningly exhilarating speed at which it’s happening and the transformative power of self-interest—that is, how greed has the potential to benevolently speed the coming of the postindustrial age. His examples of the problems created by globalization—which range from the threat of rapidly spreading “super bugs” to supply-chain disruptions created by natural disasters—are powerful, as is his case for how savvy decision makers can leverage new technology and means of communication to tap into innovative ideas in every corner of the globe. Examples of the latter include behemoth “dinosaurs” like Proctor & Gamble opening up their research and design function to encourage contributions from outside sources and medical device makers in China finding ways to produce portable, economical versions of previously astronomically priced testing equipment. Only a few fanciful tangents, including a discourse on “the Singularity”—the point at which machines will surpass humans in intelligence—and the author’s well-intentioned but occasionally cumbersome attempts to provide a fully balanced account of the positives and negatives of technological progress mar this otherwise exemplary narrative.
The perfect primer for the postindustrial age.