Praveen Gupta: Europe must pursue the role of global leadership
Praveen Gupta is the President of Accelper Consulting and a well-known consultant. His works, with Six Sigma method being probably the most famous among them, are known to managers all around the world. Mr. Gupta managed to find the time in his overloaded daily schedule to talk for poandpo.com about the global crisis.
A widespread belief is that the current crisis will end in 2010. Do you agree with that because that's less than two years from now, can the crisis be over that soon?
Following the America's lead, many countries have initiated their stimulus plans without addressing fundamentals of the meltdown. Considering complexity of the situation, I do not see economy recovering by 2010, or anytime soon. Given that most economies still depend on consumption in the U.S. marketplace, and the American economy will continue to shrink, there is a great uncertainty of knowing when it will be over.
What we are seeing is the cumulative effect of over twenty years of gambling with the economy. Finally, the economy gave up. American economy will improve when we start earning our money, and consuming more goods and services. Simply keeping money in circulation would not be sufficient to turn around the economy. We are all waiting what new goods and services we are going to produce that would create wealth.
Do you see any other country or continent other than USA which can be an economic leader and pull the world out of the crisis?
China, India, Brazil and Europe, collectively may turn it around if the economic gains are shared among masses, and more money is in circulation. Given the dependency of China on U.S. economy, China can not turn the global economy around. India and Brazil, though not so dependent on the U.S. economy, are not large enough economies to make a significant dent globally.
Europe's growth has not been sufficient. However, if someone can bring these major economies together they can counter the adverse effect of the U.S. economy on the global economy.
What should US managers do to prevail the current crisis and what should their counterparts in Europe do?
Well, the U.S. must get back to its strength of innovating new sciences, products, and services. Work hard to reproduce well and economically, and then create real wealth. Past prosperity has twisted the vision and perspective or the current 2-3 generations that need be changed. America's success came from innovations of late 19th century/ early 20th century and hard work of Americans that jump started the economy in 1930 – 50's.
Now, we in America, need not only to work hard, but also work well to remain globally competitive and again make the 'Made in America' a respectable brand.
As to Europe, I like thoroughness of approaching any challenge. People in Europe like to do well, but maybe not fast enough. Simplifying the decision making process at all levels would go a long way. European countries must stretch a little to take the challenge head on, and not look up to for something to happen in the rest of the world. I suppose, Europe must pursue aggressively the role of global leadership, especially, being the EU now!
What can European managers learn from the mistakes in the USA?
I have had the opportunity to work with people on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. America has been driven by quickly commercializing, and Europe has been driven by doing right. Therefore, American managers could improve in the design stage, while European managers could speed up the execution or the commercialization stage.
Europe must produce more faster for their own and global populace. Remember, this may highlight the cultural difference as well. People in Europe like to take it a little easy, which is great, and people in American like to do it too fast, which is also great. But both cultures have their cons too. So, cultures on the both side of the Atlantic need to strengthen their weaknesses to strengthen the weakened strengths. Sounds like a tongue twister. Isn't it?
There are many seminars and workshops for managers. Do you think that advices from those events are implemented in everyday work? Does the majority of managers go to learn something new or it is some kind of team building without any significant impact on doing business?
Well, I have learned from my good teachers that we should learn to practice what we learn. Real learning occurs when the knowledge is put into practice. As I had read somewhere knowledge without action is as good as no knowledge. Therefore, today's seminars must focus on teaching something that is needed, and must teach it well to take to practice.
I see many seminars are designed to teach a lot to a group of people in a short time without considering their practical application. Thus, I would recommend that people should go to seminars only after ensuring relevance and making commitment to use at least one tool or method the next day after the seminar. Then, the lessons will be more permanent. As someone has said, use it or lose it. Knowledge gained in commercial seminars is like vaporware. It evaporates quickly unless contained in mind through practice. ■