No stranger to nationalization

Globally, many countries are having to take stake in life-blood companies — in the US, banks like Bank of America, Citibank; in the auto industry, Chrysler and GM — and, well, you’ve read the news.  The more money that gets infused into the failing businesses, the  more nationalization will be taking place.  As an ex-pat Canadian, with 36 Canadian years of living, nationalization doesn’t scare me.  I grew up with social responsibility as part of my fabric and I never saw any reason to fear it.  Moving to the US, I learned quickly that entrepreneurship is easier to embrace in the US because of the sheer numbers of citizens and their desire to consume.  The meltdown that we are experiencing globally means that entrepreneurship will be that much more challenging.  Financing harder to come by.  Business development  painfully slow.

But it still doesn’t scare me, yet.  Having lived multiple corporate lifecycles, I’ve seen big business tighten and loosen the reins.  In that cycle, a company will decentralize to be more nimble and give great latitude to field operations.  As soon as profits start to shrink (which is inevitable), the company will again centralize, taking away operational privilege from field directors and managers.  Purchasing will become centralized, expense accounts downsized and for a period of time, there can be intense scrutiny on all aspects of remote operations.  And, then, when the burden of handling all operations and control internally at corporate headquarters, the cycle will begin again — more control and responsibility will head out to the field.  Some unprofitable operations will be shut down, corporate headcount will be streamlined and it’ll be sink or swim for the field leaders. 

If you are in a corporate structure for any period of time, you’ll see the same pattern repeated.  Each time the pattern is re-shaped, with a new leader, new CEO, new director, there will be many fancy names attached to the activity: downsizing, right-sizing, change management, restructure, etc, etc.  But if you take all the fancy, scary names away, really, you just have natural expansion and collapse.  Companies with enough support survive the collapse.  So right now, we are in an elevated state of collapse and the restructure is nationalization.  It’s the business reaction to a disastrous economy. 

Is there any silver lining to this current cloud?  I don’t really think so.  But I do believe that the innovators and inventors will find their way to invent and innovate new ways to rebuild economy.  Israel created farms out of desert through creation of irrigation and solar systems, when there was no other way to fuel their own need for a level of self-sufficiency.   We, the boomer generation, the “me” generation, the post-hippie Yuppie, found ways, as a whole,  to create wealth…to the point of fabricated wealth for which we are all suffering greatly now.

Obama’s mantra of “Yes, we can” is not about the government “doing” for us.  The government must and will shore up deficiencies by making more money to keep us afloat until the “we” in “yes, we can” actually get squeezed into invention.  That invention will come from our demographic and the invention of the millenials, our echoes.  Of that I have no doubt.

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