24 October 2005

Transformation Challenge

Can Puerto Rico create enough technology jobs to become a truly global economic player?

The knee-jerk answer from The Fools is “Are You nuts?”

The easy answer is “Yes.”

The real answer is “It will take time…and We could fall short.”

Obstacles in the way of this transition are actually easy to define, but difficult to overcome. They are:

1) A culture accustomed to “bonus-based jobs” and “welfare economics”: Puerto Rico’s growth was driven almost entirely by factory-type jobs and wage structures highly dependent on annual bonuses along with limited benefits. These create a mentality that sees “security” in dependence. From there to a “welfare” viewpoint is easy, given the billions of dollars the U.S. has pumped into the Island to overcome its limited economic resources (a limitation often created by U.S. policies towards Puerto Rico.)

2) An educational system that has targeted “ignorance” over “instruction”: It has done so seeking to create a population of essentially shallow knowledge; the less We know, the easier they can manipulate Us. Proof? Puerto Rican history, barely taught in grade schools, is thus relegated to third-class status behind English (see how big a joke that is here) and U.S. history.

3) Leadership more in tune with the past than the future: IF We have leadership, it tends to look backwards—usually to criticize—rather than looking forward to grapple with real issues.

Our way to overcome this malaise is to create an atmosphere of entrepreneurial vision and ambition, a culture aimed at breaking new ground rather than one content to follow other’s footsteps. It will require an education firmly based on knowledge of who and what We were and are, an education eager to explore inner resources along with the comfort to fully explore the world, instead of just Our moneybags neighbor to the north. And We must achieve this transformation with leadership in multiple quarters, not just government and big business, for long ago they fossilized into patterns of failure.

Of course this takes time. It could take 15, 20, maybe 25 years…at least. But those years will go by anyway and if We choose to delay Our effort, or ignore even making it, those years will see Us as what We will have chosen to become: pathetic, maybe bitter, sideline observers.

Now even with a concerted effort, We could fall short. Why? Because We will need another generation to make it happen. Our generation, those of Us between the ages of 18 and 49, can carry the load for the first part of the effort. To be successful, We will need to imbue the same sense of urgency, vitality and determination that We have into Our children. This transference goes far beyond the educational system: it depends directly on Our willingness—and ability—to make good things happen.

Like all great endeavors, there is a high degree of personal control in this process of transformation. It is based on choice and We can choose, every day, to make a difference. Like all great endeavors, the goal is highly definable, yet flexible enough to allow for personal nuances. And like all great endeavors, it requires action.

It will take time. Success is not guaranteed, yet failure is an option We can choose to avoid.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

No comments: