Published on: September 22, 2011
by Kevin Coupe
Content Guy’s Note: Below is a commentary on the same subject as the video piece, but it isn’t word-for-word the same. You can look at both, or either...it is up to you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Earlier this month, I made reference to a new book that was coming out - That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World and How we Can Come Back, co-authored by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. As I’ve been traveling around, I’ve begun reading it, and there is a story in there to which I think it is worth paying attention.
Apparently Friedman went to China in September 2010 to attend a conference in the Tianjin province, a place that he’d previously been to and was a miserable three and a half hour car ride from Beijing. This time, however, he found that it was a wonderful, 29-minute ride away on a brand new bullet train. At the end of that ride, Friedman found himself in a conference center that was not just world-class, but universe-class.
And here is the amazing part. That new conference center opened in May 2010. They started building it in September 2009. Eight months. Friedman, to say the least was impressed ... especially when he considered the fact that back home in Bethesda, Maryland, at the metro station where he would take a train into Washington, DC, there was an escalator that had been broken for six months, with no sign that it was going to be repaired anytime soon.
Now, this is more than just a vivid illustration of how China is pulling away from the United States - something that, truth be told, can be traced back to China’s less than indulgent political system. I wasn’t totally surprised by this; a couple of years ago, when I was in Shanghai, I noticed that there were buildings going up everywhere, and that people were working on them 24 hours a day.
But it also is an illustration of how 21st century countries and companies have to behave. There is old-world time, and there is modern time...which ticks away a lot faster than it used to. I find myself thinking about Friedman’s story now every time I see a construction site or any sort of construction project - I wonder when they started and when they will finish. I wonder how long it would take in China. And, I’ve begun to think about these issues in more metaphorical terms.
To be competitive, people and companies have to be a lot faster, a lot more nimble, a lot more willing to try new things and make faster judgments. And if you don’t, the competition will - and that will give the other guy a differential advantage.
You simply cannot afford to let that escalator - or anything else, for that matter - go un-repaired for six months. Doesn’t matter what the reason is - there is no excuse.
That’s what is on my mind this morning, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: