Dec 12, 2008

Watch and wait: reboot alert

Posted by: Marian Salzman In: globalization| the economy| thought leadership

“Bailout” (defined as “a rescue from financial distress”) has been named 2008 Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster, beating out “maverick,” “bipartisan” and “turmoil.” According to Webster, bailout had the highest intensity of lookups over the shortest period of time this year, earning it the title. We predict “reboot” will join that esteemed list come next year. Reboot was the buzzword among 700 experts at the World Economic Forum’s recent gathering in Dubai, where debate encompassed the economic crisis, the environment, development, energy, mining and mobility. The outcome was a call for a “fundamental reboot” of the world’s operating systems—those that drive its economies, markets and societies—in order to establish a fresh platform based on renewed confidence and trust, and on sustainability, responsibility and ethical principles.  So is it true the systems have crashed, or are they just a little buggy? Do they need a reboot, or a different OS altogether? With Barack Obama prepping for DC and promising change, he and his administration will likely set the agenda for a reboot of many national systems. But will said systems fight progress? Is a true reboot feasible?

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    I'd agree that reboot will be much more memorable and apt, because I think the future will look back on this time as a period of fundamental change, while bailouts are merely the patchwork band-aids being used to -- hopefully -- avoid a total crash. But I think more than the reboot of operating systems discussed here, the real and lasting change driver will be the "cultural reboot" most of us are feeling within to move away from the excess and polarization that were touched upon in this forum's "Think 2009" post and toward an era of value appreciation and civility. Like most crises, this economic storm is causing some fundamental shifts that can result in a residue of healthy change. It's what makes me strangely optimistic towards the next year despite what undoubtably will be a messy and disquieting beginning.
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    I find the concept of "rebooting" very apt today -- while I associate it with a fresh start and renewed confidence, it's usually preceeded by an anquished cry and a string of profanities.
 
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