Fail to plan, we are planning to fail

Dr. Iain MacRitchie

There are highly relevant quotes to keep front of mind as we seek to recover our devasted economy and avoid a lost generation. The first simply ‘where there is no vision the people die’. Perhaps more relevant is Benjamin Franklin’s, ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’. So how do we create a vision and a plan? As Mandela said we need both. ‘Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world’. What are ours?

We have dealt with the COVID crisis and without any past experience to rely on. We have made mistakes but it could have been much worse. There is apprehension about winter, but we are in better shape. However, we still have to deal with the fact that re-floating the economy is a health and well-being emergency. Especially for our young people who have been severely impacted. They need schools kept open, come what may. For our most disadvantaged, schools are much more than education. They as safe havens where relationships, hope and aspirations are nurtured.

Vision for our Economy

Who should set the vision for our economy? I will resist the urge to say 'country' to avoid any politics. We don’t need political division in economic recovery, just economic recovery. It means we need business to create and sell more and generate profits that can be shared. I have often pondered who is best placed to come up with solutions, the trained professional without lived experience or those at the receiving end of policy and decisions.

Is there a place for the Monday morning quarterback? ‘Someone with hindsight who criticises the decisions of others’. Who knows better, a pundit who has never played the game or a player? Can academics, intellectuals, career politicians or civil servants set key business or social policies? I used to smile in business deals when sharp city analysts asked the penetrating questions but then didn’t listen to the answers. They became spreadsheet and box ticking champions, lost in the process.

Who knows better, a pundit who has never played the game or a player?

Decisions Need Diversity

To get the right business decisions, we need a diversity of perspectives. There are two preconditions. Those with direct or lived experience need to be co-creators, front and centre. It also needs effective leadership that is listening first, relationship based secondly, building consensus with clarity on actions. Respectfully disruptive as no-one likes or embraces change. Engaging, with a place for all views but brave to call out and topple vested interest.

We should address professional bias and vested interest. Unconscious or otherwise. Can I just take the recent school exam results? No judgement, just a question. Did our most disadvantaged get disadvantaged further? Less grades reductions in more affluent areas needs an explanation. I have worked in my Foundation for 15 years but accept I look through a business lens. We talk about early intervention and have models demonstrating significant savings. What we haven’t yet dealt with is that the savings come from different institutions and budgets. Our systems have created conflicting interests which slow development and can kill progression. Bold leadership is the only way through.

To get the right business decisions, we need a diversity of perspectives.

3 Components of Change

To make practical progress, there are 3 simple components parts of any change. First, we need the goal, the vision. Let’s call it the result. We then need the process of how we will achieve the result. The third element is the time or deadline we have. RPD to introduce you to an MCR team acronym. The reality in business is the result is normally clear, as is the deadline to achieve it. Post COVID, cashflow dictates. It is just then about the process. Involve, engage and ask those that know. Have those affected central to all decisions.

We need our industries safely back up and running. It is vital, as is the need to fuse economic success with effective social policies built on social inclusion, mobility and contribution. We need to encourage entrepreneurs to drive ideas into business models. We need to motivate inward investors to set up in Scotland by directly asking them to. We have fantastic sectors far too understated so let’s confidently communicate nationally and internationally. Open, positive, motivated, committed, resilient, intelligent, entrepreneurial, socially driven, inclusive and deeply caring. With zero tolerance to anything less.

We need our industries safely back up and running. It is vital as is the need to fuse economic success with effective social policies built on social inclusion, mobility and contribution.

The Scotsman

About the Author:

Dr. Iain MacRitchie
Founder & CEO MCR Pathways
Visiting Professor at University of Strathclyde

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