India: be there!
India: a cacophony of sounds, smells and colours. David Blair, MD of Fitch Design Consultancy was quoted as saying, “Indians’ love of colour is well known and we have found that when we have brought concepts to India we have had to brighten up the whole experience to appeal to local tastes”. India is a nation of paradox and one in which nothing is what it seems; a country brimming with friendly, smiling people – all seemingly armed with a tangible energy and a humble confidence in who they are and what the future holds. It can all be quite intoxicating to the uninitiated.
The projections are that India is set to surpass China when it comes to economic clout by the year 2050. The Indian population (currently 1.3 billion) will pass that of China by 2035. The significant difference being that India has a ‘young population’ – a factor that will power its long-term economic prospects.
The Chairman of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce said earlier this year, “If you are not in China, you are already too late”. This stark warning could be true of India in the not too distant future.
The biggest challenge in absorbing this global shift, this new and emerging world, is in how it challenges our conventional wisdom – both conceptual and practical. To think that we can simply transplant what has ‘worked in our own countries’ to ‘work there’ is a massive mistake. It is one thing reading the figures and projections; it is an entirely different thing to get a ‘hands-on’ experience of places such as India. It is when experiencing such places that the realization of the real work of global leadership hits home: that of cultural awareness and adaptive intelligence. Many of the lessons that have served so well in the past, in a different and familiar context, come up woefully short in the face of such over-whelming difference. We quickly realize that ‘our way’ is not ‘the way’ and that our ability to learn, translate, remain open and stay curious will be the new survival kit for thriving in a context such as India. Leaders will be required to go back to ‘boot camp’ if they are to succeed in this new emerging world order.
Places like India are complex, fragmented and paradoxical. Yet, this is what our global future looks like and so we need to be asking how best to go about preparing our people and organizations for such diversity and the challenges that form part of this reality.
Extracts from a blog by Keith Coats, Co-founder TomorrowToday