Fads, Fancies and the Future

It is fascinating how new business ideas and concepts arise becoming the latest thing that has to be observed.  Some become embedded into our culture and others try and fail.

But businesses can die if they select the wrong fashion and spend time and money developing their product or business around that ideal.

In the last few years we have had food miles, climate change, sustainable business, gluten free etc.

Food miles morphed into a movement to eat local food where possible and initially some huge supermarkets stopped providing food from countries such as New Zealand as the food miles were high, which had a major effect on the market.

Over time however further analysis demonstrated that local provision might have other environmental costs that were not accounted for just by reducing the transport factors.  It was found that local production might have higher environmental costs when studied in depth.  It was not simple!  So the policies evolved and changed to accommodate real world practices.  One result is that in New Zealand many of our foods now have labels that tell us where the has come from and the person may use their judgement as to whether  a long distance travel is more or less important than the sprays used in particular countries or whether the cows graze on lush grass outside in the fresh air not stand in stuffy sheds.

“Climate change” has cost the world many billions of mostly unproductive expenditure and not added much yet to the quality of life to most of the world.  While we do need to protect the world against pollution in all its forms the focus on whether warming or cooling is occurring has blurred the picture of what really needs to be done.  The vast investment in this so called science may have yet to prove its value.  And if compared to expenditure in other activities there has been very little discussion over actions, products and services might have had a more valuable impact on this world we live in.  The argument has been dominated by hysteria, which is not a good form of investment analysis.

At a smaller more local level are the food fads that rise and fall.  These are usually in the more wealthy communities who can afford to be fussy.  If your business can tool up quickly and comparatively inexpensively to meet the market demand, it is probably worth doing.  But tooling up for something that is “here today gone tomorrow” could cost your business its life.

This is where it is important to have a strategic plan that has a strong emphasis on risk management.  While it is difficult to foresee the future and plan for it there should always be the flexibility to adapt to opportunities and to be ahead of the game.

Our Diploma focuses on teaching our students to think strategically about the future, not to continue with BAU – Business as usual.  We want our students to be able to look forward for new ideas, to have the skills to evaluate the risks and opportunities that open up before them.  BAU does not work for the rapidly changing world we live in.

Frances Denz, MNZM

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