Thinking outside the box; extending the economics of Guyana against the real challenge within the box


IN 2016, I read and filed an article developed around an address Stanley Ming had given to a graduation class previously. Kaieteur News 26, Nov. 2017, Ming in a very profound presentation, insisted on the new perspective young people should nurture towards job creation. Stanley is the only successful businessman to have expounded on the subject.

This required an independent awareness in the face of new trends and realities of employment and livelihood, that the silent governance of modernisation-technology and its long reaches had silently inflicted upon global labour and thinking. I have executed several articles from 2015 onwards on this similar theme.

Stanley was direct; he reflected and warned against the cultural-colonial template that certification (qualifications) Degrees and PhDs are the magical grades for all knowledge and success. I can clarify in what sense that reference was made. It is all good about getting a tertiary education, those are encouraged goals, but there is a special ingredient invested in humans that we call talent and vision, that propel us to make the unusual happen.

It’s referred to as ‘The cutting edge’. It’s a calling, seeing the obvious that no one else is seeing, and having the passion to go after it, which most times is a solitary journey, especially if you’re not just mimicking an existing template. Tertiary achievements must be applied in related streams, and not expected to morph, especially in the ‘Outside-of-the-box’ stage. I have experienced and know that especially in the management towards the development of entrepreneurial skills, persons with opposing certification are placed in charge who successfully undermine, create obstacles and with clueless, parallel agendas circumvent the intended purpose, and are unable to recognise, much less initiate the next phase.

A colleague briefed me recently about one such scenario that involved training in the jewellery industry; and therein lies the problem, that thinking outside of the box requires fixing the consciousness within the box, in respect to most of ‘Outside of the box’ or OTB- my abbreviation, that in its concept stage is not defined, or easily explained, because as it is defined, it is being edited, adjusted and reshaped. I can offer some personal experiences on the evidence of many artists and talented artisans who turned away from their craft, for the typical accepted index of employment permitted on the narrow perspective of ‘feeding yuh self’ that would receive a nod from colleagues and relatives, some because they didn’t want to labour towards the next phase, which is indeed a difficult and lonely task, with others the puzzled expressions where support was expected, humbled them.

When the President referred to the curse of the ‘Six sisters,’ meaning our fixation on our export industries inherited from the colonial era, the usual ready to criticise, with their short-sighted views, but eager collaborating media expounded. The criticism went far beyond their understanding; he was referring to our public systems and economic imagination that are tied exclusively to those specific inheritances and required functioning moulds, de-emphasising and ambivalent to the potential of every other un-regularised, unregulated skill and talent. None of the critics offered anything else but criticisms of everything to impress the ‘simple,’ but never an inspiring vision on anything, but only as clueless litigants against any effort to expand or redefine the popular age-old drudgery and its ‘time-warped’ work songs.

This mode of thinking had become petrified in many areas on our stage. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous bodybuilder and actor, in an interview referred to America and Austria- his place of birth, words to effect: “In Austria, if you say you want to do this, they will give you 11 reasons why it can’t be done. In America, they say go for it.” In relation to Guyana, they tell you, “ Duh’s a good idea, but yuh should go abroad boy.” You get the agreement and acknowledgement, but not the home-launch nod, and not without good reason.

But that’s changing, but the optimism has to come with a sober realisation that every bureaucratic support system concerned with the nature of any new business endeavour has to be designed with procedure templates to allow for easy passage. Most entrepreneurs learn along the way, by reading trade books and biographies from other countries; but regardless of what we learn from external examples, understand what we legally have at home, with respect to legal support in relation to our laws.

We must remember that the ”Six Sisters” and their 19th-century bureaucracy have become rigid with tentacles across not considered areas, and a closer look most likely will be depressing, as depressing as when I discovered the dismal reality of our Intellectual Property Laws in the 90s. I then understood why 70 per cent of our talented citizens were poor and died that way, It was frightening, because I was one of them then, sometime in their past. I understood more the President’s reference to the psychosis of the ‘Six Sisters’ and could have predicted the pedestrian responses.

Another dismal reality came home to me after 1992. That the complex world of ‘Thinking Outside of the Box’ is divided as opposing elements, when it comes to our two major political parties, that any advancement of creative businesses and their supporting protective laws can only come from the APNU+AFC coalition, not the PPP. They have not evolved to even understand the value and self-discipline of the individual mind, or perhaps, they despise its existence.

They will smother its potential and relegate its value to servility, while adhering to the very international dictates if they are to benefit directly. A dismal and terrifying mentality, back in the day they were stringent when NCN hosted World Cup etc. No local advertisers could use any related logo or motif or character design from their licensed product, but in the same breath, they justified the copying of school textbooks–weird but true. This is not about politics; it’s about economics, mainly the economics in the Guyana sense of ‘Thinking Outside of the Box.’