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Reinventing in the New World
Pradeep Shankar
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The world has become less predictable. Things change more often than we think. In January this year if you asked someone whether Egypt, with 40 years of dictatorial rule, would change, they would have said ‘not in the next 40 years’. Would Libya change, not in the next 10 years! Yes, world is changing more often than we thought. Similarly, back home, no one could have imagine the anti-corruption drive led by Anna Hazare could take the country by storm.

Perhaps India might soon see its own version of the Arab upspring or occupied Wall Street movement. It is just a matter of time.

While there is uncertainty and chaos, there is more opportunity for people who adapt quickly than those who follow process and old models. Countries, companies and individuals, which challenge the conventional, transcend mediocrity; altering old frameworks of work will emerge as winners in the new world order.

Can every light consume 75 percent of electricity it does today? How can air-conditions consume 75 percent less energy? Can engines drive on half the oil they consume today? What if we did not need doctors to do healthcare? Can education happen without teachers? The list can go on and you can think of several unconventional things in almost every category. If one has to lead the race and win the game, you ought to be continuously reinventing.

Political leaders across the globe are looking at ways for job creation. They see that not only are young firms the source of most new jobs, they also keep older firms vibrant and provide the greatest promise for innovating our way through the world’s toughest challenges. They are not only the greatest source of new wealth for our economies, but since all boats rise on an incoming tide, they offer our greatest hope in the worldwide quest for a better society. To seize the opportunity, one has to have the grit and determination to make the change. For instance, everyone thought nothing would disturb the landline world in India. Bharti took advantage of new trends in telecom space to emerge as leader in the mobile world. And they continue to reinvent their business every few years.

While one prepares to adapt to the new world order, it is important to have conviction is whatever we intend to do. In his book, On Being Certain, neurologist Robert Burton challenges the notions of how we think about what we know. It talks about entrepreneurs and ideas and how to convince oneself to take risks. Some people are genetically inclined to lead things. It turns out that believing in ideas you get and taking the risks associated with it is the same gene which makes you believe in religion, where you are willing to believe in something without proof. It is an essential part of entrepreneurship to have conviction about what you do. Once you are on the journey, you do it as though it is your religion.

You have to have schizophrenia, which is combination of arrogance and over-confidence of what you can do and be paranoid of everything that can go wrong. Getting this right is the key to be a successful startup or individual, especially in the new world, which is changing faster than we think.

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