Have you ever been on a journey with someone where you’ve obviously lost your way, but they won’t let you stop and ask for directions? They refuse to acknowledge they need help. Why is that?
“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.” – Carl Jung, psychologist and innovative thinker
Stubborn pride can appear in many different forms. The effect, however, is always the same.
Sometimes national pride can be a positive force that enables community leaders to focus attention on a common cause and encourage citizens to work together to attain progressive goals and objectives.
But there are other times where a nation’s leadership may use the façade of patriotism to mask shortcomings and thereby avoid making much-needed changes to the current status-quo.
Information and Communication Technology Advantage
Over the last decade, I’ve observed this phenomenon as I monitored the mixed reaction to global market research studies that assess the ICT4D innovation progress of regions and countries around the world. These studies gauge performance across socioeconomic metrics that aid in the benchmark ranking of a nation’s ability to prosper within the Global Networked Economy.
How national policymakers in the developed countries react to these study findings tends to hinge on whether the nation’s leadership culture is focused on continuous improvement or on protecting their legacy of prior accomplishments. The global champions will strive to improve on past performance, where the laggards will be more likely to dispute the study findings and question the methodology.
Ironically, a developed nation’s prior success during the industrial revolution can actually become a handicap. The lingering memory of greatness from a bygone era can become “baggage” that fuels a culture of denial – refusing to accept that the balance of power in the world has shifted.
Bravado: When the Empire Has No Clothes
As I’ve mentioned in prior editorials, I’m a British citizen that’s lived and worked in the U.S. for more than three decades. While I’m no expert on the rise and fall of empires, I’ve noticed that there are some leading indicators that can demonstrate when a nation has apparently reached the pinnacle of greatness.
But how do you know when a country has started to descend down the declining tail of an economic bell curve? Perhaps it’s when bravado about being “the greatest country in the world” seems to sound somewhat hollow. Yet nobody wants to be the one to state the obvious – maybe due to fear of being labeled as stupid, having lost sight of that once great majesty that everyone else claims to see.
At times like this, I’m reminded of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Is it possible that national vanity can become a blinding force that hinders the adoption of required policies that will lead to meaningful and substantive economic progress?
I believe that having the courage to break through the pretense of superiority is the path that can lead you back to lasting prosperity. So, let’s consider the statistical and empirical evidence.
Recognized KPIs and Associated Outcomes
Like any other scientific assessment, there are key performance indicators (KPIs) that enable academics to perform the research with some degree of objectivity. By applying these metrics and guidelines over time, we already know that several of the nations that ranked at the top of two key ICT4D measures have been able to maintain and grow their global leadership.
When viewed with an open mind and a fearless disposition, the Global Information Technology Report and the Global Innovation Index provide beacons for those that seek to better understand the evolving landscape and thereby navigate this very important journey from a fully-informed perspective.
There is no shame in having temporarily lost your sense of direction – it happens. Don’t let pride hold you back. Just admit it, make the required adjustments and move on towards your desired destination.
The following video offers a summary of the Global Information Technology Report 2013.
The next video interview summaries the findings from the Global Innovation Index 2013.