Structural or Cyclical? Or does it even matter? (#2)


By: Randy Ataide

A recent post provided some initial thoughts upon our return from the National Association for Business Economics annual policy conference in Washington D.C. I have enjoyed my times at these conferences the past few years, but am enjoying it much more since we have been joined with energetic, fun and very intelligent PLNU MBA’s. There is something about young professionals and executives walking into a business or economic seminar or event that electrifies a room.

I wrote of my great fear of long term unemployment and the toll it is taking on our nation. Listening to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, I firmly agree that in moving forward towards prosperity, the economy must grow more rather than only focusing upon cutting and trimming. If not, we risk the vicious convulsions racking much of Europe these days. And I think this is true not only of nations but of many other organizations, for profit and nonprofit alike, small, medium or large in size.

In any organizational context, it is important to realize the difference between prudent stewardship and resource accountability and leadership vision, strategy and action. While these practices are related, too often the former dictates the latter. It is analogous to allowing a Human Resources Department to have disproportionate power in a company. While the standardization of practices, policies and procedures is a worthy goal for a company, HR must be there to support the organization rather than drive the organization. Too often, constraints placed by bureaucrats stifle and choke off innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and in the final analysis, company growth. When stifling agents and activities choke these critical activities off in companies, we find that it matters little if a downturn like we are currently experiencing is structural or cyclical. It matters little if it is a large nation, public corporation a university or a micro-enterprise—the diversion of personal and organizational energy into such activities leads to low growth.

Last Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of hosting the 2011-12 PLNU Entrepreneur Enrichment Program, and listening to 12 young entrepreneurs and their mentors and advisors speak of the transformative process of taking an idea through the project and planning stage.  (For more details see). Entrepreneurs care less about cyclical or structural patterns and cycles, for they seek to create their own opportunity, win or lose. Entrepreneurs such as Arthur Cachero, Jamie-Lee Kwai, Ryan Baer, Ashton Runyon and all of the others who completed the EEP are inspirations to us all. All of us, including Mr. Bernanke and the rest of our political, business and economic leaders, should take a cue from these aspiring change agents, for they seek to create their own opportunities, rather than to ponder the questions of cycles or structures, or make time for the bureaucrats and technocrats. I say to each of them, forge ahead into the positive and prosperous future you seek.

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