Sunday, June 20, 2010

Good to Great - on a global scale

The world is getting smaller every day as technology brings us closer together, gives us the ability to communicate better and makes international travel easier than ever before. However, as the world gets smaller we have come to depend upon, and we affect, each other more – as our recent worldwide recession has shown us. No longer is each country encapsulated and insulated from what’s happening in the rest of the world; it’s become clear that we’re all in this together. OK, so where do we go from here? Is it even plausible that we might work together as an international community? Perhaps, but where do we start?

The concept of one currency, on the surface, seems to have great appeal and many benefits, but a single currency is an end result, not a starting point. Before a single currency can even be considered we have to look at why it wouldn’t work and remedy those issues. One of the biggest problems is that some countries are very poor while others are very rich. There is a huge disparity between our countries – let’s start there. Let’s build teams of people from around the world to help poor nations build infrastructures which would ensure clean drinking water, irrigation, electricity and sewage. Build schools, working with locals to preserve their heritage while teaching their youth skills that they can use to get their families out of poverty.

The funding to bring third-world nations into the 21st century would come from contributions from the world’s richer countries. Each country would also be able to hire people onto this international team, so that no one nation is controlling, or paying for, these efforts. If the world is going to strive towards being an international community, first we must ensure that we all share the same basic standard of living. This will take us many years to accomplish and will likely start off with a lot of quarreling over who will do what, how much it will cost and perhaps even overcoming resistance from countries that may not want their quality of living improved to our standards. One very important point to consider as we begin this endeavor is that it’s for the benefit of the world as a whole and that there is no hidden agenda. Perhaps a portion of the military budgets for the world’s countries could be channeled to this effort.

Let’s say, for example, that the world as a whole were to come to a crisis – like an alien invasion – it’s highly probable that we, as a world, would come together and present a united front against a global enemy. So why can’t we work together now? Perhaps the answer is that we’re not threatened and have no crystal clear common goal. So let’s task the United Nations with determining just what our common goals are; to determine the best course of action for our world as a whole, because surely there are several. We’ll solicit the advice of top minds from around the world on topics from the global economy to health and wellness to agriculture and far beyond.

As Jim Collins in his book Good to Great suggest, we need to confront “the brutal facts, yet never lose faith” (Collins, 2001). If we look at the world as a large corporation that has various profit centers, or silos, that sometimes compete, perhaps it’ll make this process seem a bit more manageable. As the global community becomes goal oriented in the same direction, issues like trade and capital flows, exchange rates and international disagreements will begin to lose effect.

There has to be a happy medium that we can all agree to, a basic standard of living and level of tolerance that will work for us all, because in the end regardless of religion, color, heritage, political views and agendas we’re all human, we all share the same Earth and we all have the same basic needs for food, shelter and security. A determined melding of technologies, research, resources and finances could have limitless potential for good for all of humankind. As a world we should improve education, and perhaps offer incentives for students to attend colleges in other countries and learn other languages, and through that education break down some of the barriers related to misunderstandings or intolerance to other cultures.

It seems that the world is slowly coming to this conclusion, but is it fast enough? Will we learn our lesson from this global recession and make determined steps towards ensuring that it doesn’t happen again? Let’s hope so. And eventually, through much trial and tribulation, perhaps the world can also move from Good to Great.