This is a guest blog by Jean Brittingham.
I’ve been a little behind on blogging because we are working feverishly on our book—The SmartGirls’ Way. It’s very exciting to see it coming together. In the book we discuss the characteristics, strengths and success stories of women entrepreneurs and the critical role that women will play in the Next Economy. Today I thought I’d share my thoughts about this new economy as I see it evolving.
The real recovery from the “great recession” will come with some major changes that portend good things for entrepreneurs. First, there is near-consensus that the recovery cannot be built on consumption as it has reigned in the last 50 or so years. Resources are too limited, the planet is too fragile and large corporations that supported this consumption too easily become institutions unto themselves that care only for their own future and their own profits and fail in a huge and costly manner.
Instead we should begin to envision and shape the next economy—one that is focused on creating a new solid economic base, is powered by a low-or no carbon energy source, is driven by innovation, transparency and collaborative business models and creates opportunity across the entire spectrum of social-economic reality.
There are many thoughts and ideas out there about what will drive and create this new economy. I believe it will be driven by the following four trends:
- A resource-constrained environment on a health-challenged planet
- The creation of “mega-intelligence” through collaborations that create in-depth knowledge and insights in the fields of science and technology
- A massive amplification of creativity that feeds innovation
- The rise of entrepreneurial collaboratives
Let’s first look at the issues related to a resource-constrained planet. This is not a hypothesis but rather our reality. Peak oil is around the corner. Coal, while abundant, is a major contributor to unhealthy air and global warming. Increasingly, we will have to learn how to reuse what we have already used and treat the planet as the amazing life support system that it is. This one truth has to be embraced—the planet does not exist for the benefit of the economy. It just exists. If we foul it forever, we are truly lost.
But an economy that benefits humankind, supports the development of peaceful society on earth, and sustains our life-support planet infinitely is not only possible but we can actually begin to see how we will get there.
Mega-intelligence as I am talking about it here is not a new field of study of the so-called super class of genius. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but if brilliant individuals could save the world, we would certainly be in a different spot right now. More appropriately, this term refers to the combined or collective intelligence that can be put to a problem through the connectivity and transparency afforded by increasing ubiquitous technology. Our digital connections have taken us well beyond any boundary condition previously thought of around the internet (for those who like to think about limitations) to a place where individuals of different cultures and language are collaborating on projects ranging from nuclear energy to music in the “cloud” and we are lending our personal computing ability to work 24/7 on the worlds most pressing problems—at least those that can be approached through 0s and 1s.
We are at the edge of knowing how to harness and focus this intelligence and the success of recent movements ranging from politics to science assures us that we will solve many more problems together than we have even dared to dream of by ourselves.
Creativity is fuel. It generates momentum and optimism. A wonderful/horrible truth of human nature is that when pushed to the limit, we get very creative. Our survival instinct is strong and often kicks it into high gear to help us out of a tight spot.
The current economic reset represents just such a tight spot. Even if you don’t understand or care much about economics, it’s clear that something dramatically different is afoot. Not only is a rebound to the old consumptive habits unlikely—most of us don’t seem to want it. But we aren’t excited about a future that is less interesting or comfortable either. So things are getting creative. Creative ways of working and living, of finding value propositions and new business models and creative about collaboration and wealth creation. Creativity and urgency have energized some amazing collaboratives and innovations.
And finally, whether as a result or a response, the willingness to exercise our entrepreneurial spirit has never been higher. Whether in the clean-energy economy, social enterprises focused on creating breakthroughs in traditionally underserved communities or as spin-offs and internal “tanks” in the big dog corporations, the fall of the old economy has seen the rise of entrepreneurs.
Polar opposites come together to pave the way to a future that is more vibrant, resilient and flexible. A world where entrepreneurial spirit and self-reliance is augmented and magnified by a connected creativity supported by technology that builds communities that learn, grow and make a living together.
You can see why I think the entrepreneurial future is one where women will thrive.
Success in the future will likely be measured more by the quality of your experiences than the 0s after your income bracket. Your net contribution to life will matter more than your net worth. And the inheritances your grandkids will care about are great communities, interesting work and a healthy planet.