When I was envisioning scenarios for a synchronous world recession in February, I also vaguely thought about the era that would follow such a situation.
As I pointed out last time, when we enter a situation in which the U.S. economy is in decline, the end of the century will see a simultaneous global recession, and one can predict that this will last a long time. Amidst this depression, the question will rise as to whether capitalism is really the best system for humanity.
After communism collapsed, the only economic principle governing the world has been a capitalistic ideology that mobilizes the economy through a lust for money.
However, since capitalism is destroying nature and giving rise to problems such as global warming and environmental toxins, it may not necessarily be the best system in terms of the environment and human health. From now on, I think that we should be on a quest for a new framework.
Several years ago at the Harvard Business School, the bastion of capitalism, I thoroughly learned about the concept of markets and the principles of capitalism. At HBS, just as the Forbes ranking of wealthy people, the net worth you accumulate is the basic structure of its value system. In other words, this value system amounts to "those who make money = great."
Over the past two years, I have scientifically learned the methods necessary for making money by creating value for society. I, in all seriousness, bet a friend one dollar over who would have the highest net worth by the first day of 2001 (this episode appears on the forum GLOBIS operates, G-NET, too).
But, when I look at the bubble in Japan, and the way people maintain a life of materialism amid the bubble in Asia, I wonder whether the scale of money really is so important. This doubt crept up inside me.
I think money, at the end of the day, is a scale of material value, a medium of exchange, a means for saving, and is nothing more and nothing less than coins and notes representing an economic concept. Even if you acquire enough money to become a billionaire, you are great on that scale, but seen from another point of view, you cannot be said to be that great.
Our way of thinking will change amidst the simultaneous world depression at the end of this century, and I think there will be a paradigm shift away from the value system of capitalism. Is increasing GNP really that important in the first place? How much value comes from simply having more money? I think these doubts will start to rise up as a matter of course.
So, what on earth will be the new paradigm?
The first half of the 20th century was all about military power, the second half centered on capitalism, and I think that the 21st century will focus on inner satisfaction.
Simply put, I think we are entering an age in which value will depend on other things in place of how much money we make, things such as: an abundance of heart; how much love, dreams and emotion we inspire in others; or the number of people we guide toward a new way of living (this might mean a return to the value system of the era before capitalism and militarism).
As someone involved in business, my greatest interest now is not in making more money but in how much value I can create, how much I am sharing my dream with good friends, how many people are receiving a quality education from my efforts, how many people I am able to show a way for bettering their lives. In terms of venture capital investment, how much new value for society can be created? What is vital for me as an individual is how many good friends I have. For me, the network of staff and students at GLOBIS represent an immeasurable fortune.
Having said that, of course, sales and profit are also very important. Just as there are the numerical scales of sales and profit, there is the scale of the heart that determines how many people one is bringing satisfaction to. These two scales exist alongside each other, and are inextricably linked together. That's the way that I understand it. The balance of these two is very important.
As a manager, I have a responsibility to my stakeholders for increasing the sales and profit. If profit does not increase, I cannot pay salaries to staff or produce returns for stockholders, and my company will no longer be able to return profits to related stakeholders. Many people will be unhappy. This part of business is still within the framework of the capitalist paradigm.
However, from now on, I feel that the source of sales and profit will be changed by applying the scale of how many people we provide with a sense of inner satisfaction. In other words, unless the products and services a company offers, as well as a company's management principles, deliver a sense of psychological satisfaction, profits and turnover will not rise.
Therefore, even as we maintain the capitalist framework of sales and profit, I think society will begin to place higher priority on a new value system and scale.
Amid social and economic chaos as we reach the end of an era, I wonder how people will start to change their sense of value. If the scenario we envision does manifest itself, the 21st century may become truly bountiful.
This is an issue I want to think about in the company of the good friends with whom I intend to shape the 21st century. Let's make it a good one. :-)