If I hear "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" one more time on the radio, I'm going to scream. One of the fundamental principles you learn when you study finance is that the value of organizations is more than the sum of their actual parts - and that the confidence that investors feel about their future has a big impact on the market value of those organizations. So, growth and prosperity, as difficult as they are to envision in the current climate, still persist in the future for those who can act on the courage of their convictions. If you want to read a cogent explanation of what's gone wrong in the current economy, read this article by Ben Stein.
If you'd like to reflect on a few things that may be going right, I offer a few ideas from our board members about reasons to be optimistic in 2009:
- Ruth Bramson talks about the persistence of philanthropy in this Boston Business Journal letter -Generosity is Still Very Much Alive.
- Deb McGrath feels that people are setting more realistic goals that are achievable.
- David Creelman noted that many people are curbing their consumption, spending more time with their friends and families, and finding more peace in their lives as a result.
- David also noted that recessions can create space for good businesses to thrive. A slow down gives us time to re-think and re-focus our business for the future.
- Steve Hunt believes that organizations are still pursuing critical talent during the recession, and that they are increasingly willing to support telecommuting as a means of removing geography as an obstacle to attracting and retaining that talent. You may also want to check out this recent podcast that Steve did with Rich Moran, a partner at venture capital firm Venrock in which they discuss the heightened importance of aligning employee actions with organizational intent in order to manage through the current economic climate.
- Russell Klosk says that in order to goose the economy the government needs to spend money. That means jobs that benefit from government spending are likely to take an upswing - everything from the approximately 8,000 jobs that are being stood up as part of the TARP sub-agency (within Department of Treasury) to administer the 750 Billion dollar financial services bail out to infrastructure (roads, subways, etc.) where Obama is already talking about spending up to 800 Billion. He also comments that gasoline prices continue to plunge due to lack of demand in the current economic situation, and as a result the drag on consumers and the economy has lessened significantly.
Me, I've worked through multiple economic downturns and lived to tell the tale. I don't take the current world situation lightly - I have two children in private college - nor do I believe that wishful thinking alone will drive results. I do believe, however, that maintaining a spirit of optimism can only enhance thoughtful strategies for managing through tough times.
What do you have to be optimistic about in 2009?