Monday, October 5, 2009

How can countries best achieve sustained development?

Focus on assets and capabilities.

When countries align their efforts to take advantage of their strengths and capabilities (what they know how to do and what they do well) and their assets (what they already have), fast and sustained progress is possible.

Germany has applied their best-in-class engineering capabilities to become the manufacturer of choice for the most complex machines out there. Japan has applied their cultural affinity with quality to everything they do. The US takes advantage of its diversity and its ability to organize to create highly efficient and complex systems (e.g., capital markets, energy, etc.). China applies its great national pride and sense of history. India is applying its education system to create a workable knowledge economy. Mexico exploits its natural beauty to be one of the top 10 players in tourism in the world. Switzerland exploits its stability and neutrality in areas that favor those attributes like banking. The United Arab Emirates have exploited their oil revenues to create a true oasis in the dessert. Costa Rica recognized that their rain forests with their great biological diversity could be a source for development.

You would think that it should be simple for countries to go through a simple strategic planning process like this one and identify what they should focus on. The problem is that all this requires one key component that is often hard to find: Leadership.

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