HomeFeatureTowards Vision 2030: Let’s rethink and re-imagine our future 

Towards Vision 2030: Let’s rethink and re-imagine our future 

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BY Shephard Majengeta 

IN a rapidly changing world, the business community has to make tough decisions every day; addressing clear and present dangers as well as preparing organisations for the unexpected. 

It cannot be overstated; we are living in a time of unprecedented change. The interconnectivity of people, businesses and markets has never been as strong and pervasive. 

Technological advances are transforming the way we live and work while profound shifts are impacting our societies, resulting in distress and tensions domestically as well as internationally. 

To achieve Vision 2030, of an upper-middle income economy, our business community must be alert to the developments happening at phenomenal speed. 

Organisations have to rethink their way of doing things. 

The wise words of Confucius continue to ring true: “If man takes no thought of what is distant he will find sorrow near at hand.” 

As we seek to transform our fortunes as a nation and achieve an upper-middle income economy, the business community, one of the major enablers, is faced with one reality — transform or sink. 

Despite the illegal sanctions which have hamstrung industry, an enabling environment has been created in the Second Republic and organisations that have quickly adapted to new ways of doing business will stay afloat, while sluggish entities face a bleak and uncertain future. 

To achieve Vision 2030, it is important for businesses to anticipate the future — not just so they can plan for it, but so that they can help to shape it too. 

Today’s businesses, for instance, should be able to forecast the needs that consumers will have in 2030. 

This may sound ridiculous. 

However, to be able to re-invent the future, or to re-create the future, business operators must operate on a higher plane than the average being. 

Most of the world’s leading companies underestimated the success their products would enjoy once they hit the market. 

Below is an example of how poor forward thinking nearly cost the world: 

‘‘Way back in 1876, when the telephone was invented, many people did not see beyond the horizon. 

The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication,” read a Western Union internal memo in 1876. 

‘‘The now famous Warner Brothers media conglomerate almost made the mistake of the century when Harry Morris Warner retorted: “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk!” — (H.M. Warner of Warner Brothers, 1926) 

The same sentiment was echoed by Twentieth Century Fox in 1946 when producer Darryl Zanuck said: ‘Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.’ 

In the early 1900s, before the advent of the First World War, US Brigadier-General Billy Mitchell became the subject of ridicule when he proposed that airplanes might sink battleships by dropping bombs on them. 

Then US Secretary of War, Newton Baker, said: ‘That idea is so damned nonsensical and impossible that I’m willing to stand on the bridge of a battleship while that nitwit tries to hit it from the air.’ 

Even in the world of computers, some of the leading firms were shortsighted in forecasting their market. 

Thomas Watson, then IBM president in 1943, once said: ‘I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.’ 

Of course, then, he was talking about supercomputers that occupied the space of an average size family home, but he couldn’t imagine how computers might fit in every person’s pocket in the form of a smartphone, another gadget that revolutionised many industries. 

Ken Olson, then president of the Digital Equipment Corp, in 1977, asserted: ‘There is no need for any individual to have a computer in their home.’ 

Even Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the second richest person in the world, once the richest on the face of the earth, said in 1981: ‘640k ought to be enough for anybody.’ 

Today, the average person requires at least one terra-byte of data storage, a far cry from the drop in the ocean intimated by Gates three decades ago. 

One common thread among all these cases is that, managers who can expand their imaginations to see a wider range of possible futures will be much better positioned to take advantage of the unexpected opportunities that will come along. 

As we pursue Vision 2030, let us stretch our imagination and bring to reality teacher-less classrooms in our rural communities, fields managed by robots and other gadgets. 

Let’s rethink and re-imagine our future. 

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