Posted on

WILD COOT: You lead, we follow


Harry Russell

WILD COOT: You lead, we follow

Social Share

“The prescriptions for fast-paced innovation suggest that more starts on new things, in every function, by every person, must be made in order to adapt as fast as the ever-faster-changing environment require. Given that premise, the need arises for tolerance of well-intended failures and persistent champions of innovation if the state of excitation necessary to deal with the exploding competitive picture is to be maintained.” – (Thriving on Chaos – Tom Peters – March 1988)
Barbados is desperately in need of an effective leader.
From the time of our first independence, we looked to the person at the top to point the North Star. Barbadians have distinguished themselves as different from many of their Caribbean neighbours, especially in the way they relate to the rock.
Remember under Sir Sandi how things went down to the wire? We did not have two pennies to rub against each other. And the word went out “Those people who have foreign currency abroad, can you bring it back in order to save the country in its hour of need.” And Bajans in their numbers brought back foreign currency from abroad to save the day. Why not trust the country again?
That did not happen in Trinidad, or Guyana, or Jamaica. On the contrary a Concorde jet could not match the speed of the flight of currency to America and other safe havens. That one episode marked Barbadians as different. It was a watershed moment.
We need a leader who will say to Barbadians, ‘Follow me, we intend to march forward in a bold direction, and be innovative and take risks in niche directions’, even if the leader is raspy or short and tempered.
My boss used to tell me that a leader has to be tough, decisive and pragmatic. We need to say to those in the international business sector that pussyfooting is doing us no good and when competing for business realities, speed and efficiency is required. The lost of business opportunities because of bureaucratic niceties cannot be tolerated and these obstacles must be removed.
A mechanism for promotion of new business and ideas was lost to us by the sale of the National Bank and the closure of the Development Bank. It was further compounded by the sale of the remaining shares of the National Bank even after the initial error was observed.
Either the new players step up to the plate, as they say they will, or we must acknowledge the mistakes of the past, and new mechanisms established to facilitate innovation and support for tourism. Is anybody listening?
Slow, elephantine responses in the name of caution in this computer age, in the face of mountain competition is losing us business in the international sector, and our leaders seem to be making monkey sport.
In the present environment, the private sector Piper (whoever he is) must realize that we cannot go back to the old ways of doing business, but has a responsibility to repay favours with innovative techniques facilitation to be insisted on.
“Marketing should focus on market creation, not market sharing. Market sharing and market-creating strategies require very different sorts of thinking. Market creating strategies  . . . are challenged to create new ideas.”  – Tom Peters.
Rumour has it that the banks are changing horses in mid-stream. Once upon a time a man might come to me and say, ‘My son will die if he does not get an operation tomorrow, I need $30 000 right away, here are the title deeds to my house.’ I would say “draw the cheque”. I hear that the power is moving back to the branch manager.
Of course the Wild Coot has nothing to say. I only know that I used to be well rewarded for such power with a fine salary, a car, a house fully furnished including crockery, cutlery and glassware, entertainment and paid long leave. I did not let them take advantage of me to the benefit of the shareholders.
But, you know something, I knew every borrowing customer in my branch and many others in other banks. My job and that of my senior staff was to find business for the bank and justify what it was paying us.
• Harry Russell is a banker.

LAST NEWS