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The Turn of a Friendly Card?Periodical 11 // DECEMBER 2014

From a historical point of view there is no way we can complain about the deck of cards we have been dealt. In almost all statistics human kind is better off than ever before. Yet there are some deeply-rooted traits that have not changed like the human factor and old tribal, ethnic and imperial conflicts. And even though the Internet has given people new ways to express their intentions and even impose dramatic changes, the concentration of power among a handful of leaders has rarely been more predominant than it is now. This is all amplified by enormous speed which leaves no time to consider what card to play, which scenario is best and how to react. And emotionally, of course, the initial reaction almost always favors escalation. So here we are, with Russia, Syria and so on. And all we can do is hope and pray that Putin, Merkel and Obama will find a way to stop the train.
So this enormous speed makes every change tantamount to a revolution. A revolution is not good or bad, all it does is end. What we do know and what remains is the uncertainty of what will follow which so often worries us. Often chaos, anarchy or some extremists will cause unthinkable harm to human life. So what is our plan for Putin or whomever might follow?
Let’s have a look at a different case of revolution which is not in the media’s focus but which is very much the focus of our Institute, namely Burkina Faso. Most of our entrepreneurial projects are in Burkina. With 3,000 farmers we produce 75 tons of honey every year, teach thousands how to read and write and are now building another middle and senior school in Koudougou. After former President Blaise Compaoré, whose dictatorship lasted 27 years, had to resign in the wake of the black revolution, the military initially took control but was pressed to restore civilian rule. A former diplomat, Michel Kafando, was sworn in as transitional president to guide the country to elections next year. Initially, we were very concerned that the situation would evolve similar to the one in Egypt, but now we dare to be cautiously optimistic since there has been almost no bloodshed and there is much less fundamentalism in Burkina.
These kinds of revolutions seem far removed from our business life. For us as managers or entrepreneurs, however, most of the revolutions we confront directly take place at another level. Some of them we need to initiate ourselves such as revolutions in innovation, technology and ways of running our business. And more often than not, it is the trial and error approach. But often things are not in our hands as is the case with revolutions in the markets which we invariably have to deal with.
Ultimately, we need to risk more ourselves and face more risks from everywhere which means dealing with risks in the corporate world by reducing complexity and speeding up decision-making processes. The bottom line is we have to be close to business, enjoy trust and delegate in order to be successful.
Let me invite you to have a look into the minds of brilliant businessmen and keen thinkers and find out about the bigger and smaller revolutions that keep them busy.