Friday, September 23, 2011

On Competing with China…

It’s really not about just China, it’s about competing in a globalized world. My trip to China just being the impetus for the thought.
I read a book by Tom Peters a while ago called “ReImagine!” and he focused on the requirement for America to do just that…reinvent our approach to business.
Of course, the first person (for me) to recognize this was Dan Pink (client) in his book “A Whole New Mind” (required reading, by the way.)
With very few exceptions, it’s near impossible to out-manufacture China. They can throw people (cheaply) at pretty much any problem.
Our advantage is in the innovation and in creating the BRAND experience, the emotional connection to a company that cannot be replicated.
Apple is the classic example though I hate to use them since they are such an anomaly. Conceived and designed in California…manufactured in China.
Zappos, I suppose, is another one. I bet most of the shoes they sell are made in China.
Anyway, the big takeaway from the trip for me was the fact that we don’t have-but need-a real sense of urgency about America’s future.
I don’t have the answer, but I think that most of the current approaches are focused on “fighting the last war.”
It’s like we need a “Manhattan Project” for education, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
I sometimes wonder if the roots of the country as a “nation of immigrants” is where the strength lies…but to get there, we have to take away some of our entitlements and programs.
Not the best trade-off in the short-term, but like the recent debt ceiling issue showed us, we have to confront it sooner or later.
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