03/04/2001 - 22:00

It’s how you use it that counts

03/04/2001 - 22:00

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BIG is beautiful, powerful, prestigious, and secure in a modern product-driven economy based on growth consumption. Twentieth century business survival was based on expansion.

It’s how you use it that counts
BIG is beautiful, powerful, prestigious, and secure in a modern product-driven economy based on growth consumption. Twentieth century business survival was based on expansion. Get big or get out was the catchcry.

The 21st century is moving away from the industrial product-driven economy, towards an increasingly consumer-driven economy. And consumers want wise growth.

The old power system, however, is not rolling over easy; conflict and confusion reign.

We see big solid corporations like BHP, having recently gone through slash and burn downsizing, suddenly being merged or taken over by global giants such as London-based Billiton.

Our big conservative banks, while shuffling ownership like seven-year-olds with Pokemon cards, close down branches faster than you can say shareholder greed, which further motivates the popping up of new lending institutions and community banks.

We see bad boy airlines like Virgin move into markets where, as rumour has it, our biggest international carrier, Qantas, is looking to enfold our second, Ansett, in much the way Air Canada gobbled Canadian Airlines.

We see a frenzy of corporate mergers among the big six — er, five, make that four-point-five — management firms, as with accountant, legal, and medical practices, where even the secretaries get confused about the letterhead.

What is clear is that in a consumer-driven economy, the successful organisation listens to its consumers. And especially tomorrow’s consumers.

Today’s consumers are rapidly becoming more global in their thinking, more sophisticated in their tastes, and more win-win-win in their value system — you win, I win, the planet wins. The old “greed is good” organisations are unable to, or choose not to recognise this extraordinary shift in consumer values. Five years ago, we futurists referred to this change in values as a trend picking up momentum at the grass roots level of Western society. It is now considered a grass roots movement.

Unlike leadership or government-driven change, grass roots movements are fundamentally solid, powerful, systemic change able to withstand the top-down manip-

ulation and powers of persuasion, bribes and threats of the traditional power mongers - in our times, the multi and trans nationals.

The Battle of Seattle in 1999, the Washington Walk In, and the Geneva World Trade Organisation protests last year against the proposed pro big-biz and anti-humanity agreements were highly visible and voluble examples of the deep value changes occurring within ordinary folks, at the basic consumer level, of our society.

There is another pro big-biz anti-citizens meeting planned to take place in Canada’s Quebec City, on April 20-22. Thirty four countries from around the world will meet at this Summit of the Americas to decide on a Free Trade Area of the Americas — North, Central, Latin, and South America.

Another perfect opportunity to see who is listening to our changing values. Pay attention Big Boys: It is not how big you are, but what you do with what you’ve got, that counts to us consumers.

n Ann Macbeth is a futurist and executive coach with Annimac Consultants. Contact 9384 0687 or by email at annimac@annimac. com.au

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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