Wouldn’t it be great if we in the Nordic countries dared to ask our self the questions: What are we good at? What can we accomplish together? What makes us proud? What if the Nordic countries dared to develop a society, which the rest of the world would look up to, in the future?
In a theme section published in February, The Economist put focus on the Nordic countries as global role models and for a moment, the Danish politicians shone in the light of the analysis. But the sad truth is that Denmark is in the middle of an identity crisis, created by a laisser-faire attitude towards our own creativity and yet another government, which has not managed to create a visionary and sustainable way for Denmark.
In a new TV-show, ’9.z mod Kina’, Denmark’s Radio tests Danish pupils’ abilities against the final exams of China, to figure out who are best prepared for the fight for jobs. But when all comes to all, its completely uninteresting if Tobias Nielsen can take on Li Wei’s final exam with good results. It’s about time we stop comparing our self to the standards of other countries and live up to their expectations, and start creating our own standards.
Denmark cannot beat China and India on the number of PhD’s and MBA’s. What we can do is to work cross sectional and cross professional. We are good at connecting chemists, engineers, architects and economists and make them create global solutions for global challenges such as water supply, urbanisation, obesity, pollution and trash problems. We have the will to cooperation, creative thinking and critical self-reflection. But we have to dare to build a Nordic area based on being world champions in what we are good at. And dare to put muscles and force behind the ambition.
During the last 30 years, American management thinking has been the “golden way”. But as the Harvard report from 2012, ”Competiveness at a crossroad”, shows, the US has lost its ability to be innovative and thus its competitiveness. Therefore, sending managers to MBA schools is no longer a solution, its part of the problem.
And with China as the new dominating world economy, it’s tempting to peak over their shoulder. And even though it is healthy with global visions, we must not be tempted to follow. We must find our own formula of success based on our social, cultural and commercial strengths.
Global challenges call for Nordic solutions
The challenges of our planet, now and in the future, are water supply, obesity, poverty and pollution just to mention a few. These challenges are complex and therefore demand solutions based on complex thinking.
We need new Nordic corporations where the ambitions and the Nordic potential are pushed forward. We need to make the design business work with producers of enzymes and the food companies collaborate with health experts. If we believe in cooperation across sectors, we can make new business bloom and set the standards for the global solutions.
But what about the EU, some would think. The EU has developed into a hindrance for new thinking and proactive business policy. Innovation will never come from countries more interested in protecting their own business interests, no matter how hard Connie Hedegaard is trying.
A New Nordic Way
If we want the Nordic countries to count, it requires that we take a stand. Politically it will require determination and courage. It will require a showdown with the deeply incorporated employee culture, long-term decisions to secure sustainable turn around in the businesses and better conditions for
entrepreneurs. And the long-term political bets must not to be reduced in negotiations with unions. Education-wise we must create a more ambitious fundament for collaboration between universities, technical schools and the business world so we are educated to solve the global challenges. It requires a culture, which encourage students to start their own business instead of going for the secure choice in employment. We want to be world champions in starting up global and sustainable companies.
Invest in our children
A new Nordic project may seem like an idealistic dream. But if we dare not to formulate a new Nordic way, we will be stuck where we are now. A natural beginning would be the elementary schools, and here Denmark’s Radio’s new TV-show gives reason for debate. Here we can raise the questions about the role of the Nordic countries: Do we want a future where Danish pupils are good at solving Chinese exams and later sent off to an education of yesterday, at one of US’ business schools? Or do we want a future, which occurs from our own culture, values and regional potential?
The TV-show is a fantastic opportunity to ask the questions, we need to ask about the future of our children. But to ask these questions, we must have will and courage to choose the New Nordic Way. But wouldn’t it be great if we dared to?