Dec 24, 2008

Reboot: the word of the hour, day, week, and for 2009

Posted by: Marian Salzman In: sightings from the zeitgeist| the economy| thought leadership

The economic crisis has made everyone acutely aware of the risky, tenuous nature of global systems, and not just the financial ones. In the past, major economic crises (the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression) increased people’s appetite for change and their willingness to try something different in order to solve problems. Will the same apply now, in a much more complex world where we are all deluged with information constantly, and we have much more context for forming our own opinions?

The World Economic Forum’s recent gathering in Dubai brought together 700 members to discuss the world’s hottest topics—not just the economic crisis but also the environment, finance, development, energy, mining and mobility. And the result of all the debate among experts was a call for a “fundamental reboot” of the basic systems that drive the world’s economies and societies.

The term “reboot” conjures an image familiar to anyone who has faced a computer system crash. It implies starting the system fresh, and figuring out what caused the crash in first place. Critics argue that the systems don’t need rebooting or even repairing, but rather replacing with different systems. Either way, there is agreement that we need a radical change.

It’s no coincidence that “change” was a core theme of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. And once Obama is sworn in January 20, the Reboot dynamic will swing into action. Most of the global players will be in place and can really start making decisions that will aim to reshape our country. Only time will tell whether the decisions of individual countries or even groups of countries can reboot the world’s systems, let alone replace them. So until further notice, anything and everything is up for questioning, as individuals, communities, industries and governments work to figure out ways to put things back together again in a more robust and sustainable way.

  • John Gillies
    While I agree with your premise that this (reboot) is a word indicative of the "systems" oriented mentality of today's decision makers, and up-and-comers, it is important to note that rebooting indicates a serious flaw in a system that has poor error handling, hence, forcing a reboot. In the 70s and 80s many companies measured the quality of their infrastructure systems by HOW FEW TIMES a reboot was required. I believe the trends of tomorrow have to focus on developing infrastructure, social systems, financial systems, healthcare environments, all, that have internally well-built, and inherently stable, mechanisms that deal with the ebbs and flows of society. As much as I enjoy a reboot when my systems don't work, and would enjoy a reboot of the US government, for example, I would MUCH more enjoy interacting with systems and environments that had been properly structured from the outset, properly structured to better anticipate options and variations. (e.g. systems focused on the welfare of a larger population of users than on the greedy outcomes indicative of a few stakeholders.) Perhaps that should be the focus of the current decision making generations....how do we develop these sorts of inherently stable systems so that rebooting, and massive change is not so necessary, and perhaps not so painful when it is needed. I believe we can educate, and groom, populations of children and adults to think this way, and it has to start both at HOME with parents, and in the schools with a better curriculum. The future belongs to the products of our education system. Something to mull over....
  • jdg900ss
    While I agree with your premise that this (reboot) is a word indicative of the "systems" oriented mentality of today's decision makers, and up-and-comers, it is important to note that rebooting indicates a serious flaw in a system that has poor error handling, hence, forcing a reboot. In the 70s and 80s many companies measured the quality of their infrastructure systems by HOW FEW TIMES a reboot was required. I believe the trends of tomorrow have to focus on developing infrastructure, social systems, financial systems, healthcare environments, all, that have internally well-built, and inherently stable, mechanisms that deal with the ebbs and flows of society. As much as I enjoy a reboot when my systems don't work, and would enjoy a reboot of the US government, for example, I would MUCH more enjoy interacting with systems and environments that had been properly structured from the outset, properly structured to better anticipate options and variations. (e.g. systems focused on the welfare of a larger population of users than on the greedy outcomes indicative of a few stakeholders.) Perhaps that should be the focus of the current decision making generations....how do we develop these sorts of inherently stable systems so that rebooting, and massive change is not so necessary, and perhaps not so painful when it is needed. I believe we can educate, and groom, populations of children and adults to think this way, and it has to start both at HOME with parents, and in the schools with a better curriculum. The future belongs to the products of our education system. Something to mull over....
  • Love the closing line. "So until further notice, anything and everything is up for questioning, as individuals, communities, industries and governments work to figure out ways to put things back together again in a more robust and sustainable way." Viva la reboot. Would love your thoughts on if a tempering of excessive consumerism would help us on our path to sustainability or if that'll dive us deeper into a recession....or both! No need to go Keynesian on me, just a gut reaction is fine. Love your blog and happy holidays.

    Yours in all GenX glory, without the slackerism,
    Mark
  • Love the closing line. "So until further notice, anything and everything is up for questioning, as individuals, communities, industries and governments work to figure out ways to put things back together again in a more robust and sustainable way." Viva la reboot. Would love your thoughts on if a tempering of excessive consumerism would help us on our path to sustainability or if that'll dive us deeper into a recession....or both! No need to go Keynesian on me, just a gut reaction is fine.

    BTW...read some of the rants from boomers getting cranky about your Cuspers in Boomers out premise.
    Somebody needs an adult diaper change...

    Love your blog and happy holidays.
  • DGMARTINSON
    I AM A BOOMER WHO HAS FOLLOWED THE VALUES OF THE PREVIOUS "AMAZING GERERATION WITH DEEP FAITH AND CONSERVATIVE IDEALS.BOOMERS AND CUSPERS ARE INTERMIXED WITH ONE BIG DIFFERENCE THE LATE CUSPERS AND THE NEWER GENERATION LACK SPIRITUALITY WHICH IS GOING TO CAUSE THE INCREASE OF CRIME AND IMMORALITY AND FURTHER DECLINE OF'FAMILY'
  • Saif
    That is probably the idealistic word of the year. Being a more pessimistic person, I'd say "bailout" is the overall word.
  • Tareq
    Excellent articles on this site (I'm a first time visitor). My comment is a more optimistic one. I don't believe the world is in need of a 'reboot'. There is more to be proud about and there are so many achievements of human-kind that we should marvel about. Improvements are clearly required - such as sustainable living and the use of renewables - but let us not get into the trap of fear mongering and pessimism. Lets build off our strong position - and keep changing.
  • What a positive message to remind us to build on the positive versus harp on the negative. Message noted. Thank you.
  • Unfortunately, there are far too many agendas from every nation participating in the Global economy to "Reboot". Monarchies desperately trying to hold on to power, hybrid geo-political players, such as China, Russia and the third world tribal countries looking for a scrap all have a different view of what is or what should take place. I can't imagine that an overt, collective attempt to correct the past mistakes and the "way of doing business" will come from any consensus.

    I thought that when the economic mushroom cloud manifested itself that "Reboot" was a good word, however I now feel more that it's a toilet flushing.

    From a personal point of view, I can now see our competitors fighting like hell to stay alive, as they are much, much larger than ourselves. I also see the investors who were more restrained in a full term pregnancy stock market on the prowl for companies that were leaner and light on their feet, not restrained by having to stop their "Rock Solid" plans in their tracks, which they have most assuredly done.

    Though we may question, identify the problems and seek a solution, I don't believe that any real changes in the way the world does business are on the horizon. I do think that the country, businesses and individuals that survive this with an eye on innovation will be the clear cut winners.

    As for rebooting these systems after Obama is sworn in, I think that the reality of where we really stand has begun to set in. I want him to succeed but am under no illusion that he is a King about to be crowned. There is more to the failure of the economic systems of the world than the Bush administration and the 2nd "New Deal". This crisis has been 40 years in the making. It wont be solved in a short amount of time.

    I enjoyed your blog.
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