Last week I was back home in New Zealand, speaking to Deloitte alumni in Auckland and Wellington. Deloitte NZ CEO Murray Jack and his team had a great energy, and a vital question to ask: How can New Zealand win from the edge? It’s a time-honored theme for a country half a world away from most places, and more relevant than ever in an era of massive power shifts.
I started with a story that I feel sheds a good deal of light on the answer. A few days earlier I’d met a few young New Zealand entrepreneurs with some great ideas, ready to take on the world (stand up Stolen Rum (The Rum Runners) and 90 Seconds). Their concepts were exciting and they were up for anything. The only problem was where they were setting their sights: Melbourne. Sydney. London. Having been in Beijing earlier in the week, talking to students just as hungry to engage with the world as these aspiring young New Zealanders, the absurdity of it struck me powerfully. Here we are with China, the world’s most populous nation, with a rapidly growing economy not far from our doorstep, waiting with open arms, and still we’re obsessed with the mature markets of Australia and the UK! These are not markets to ignore, but there are other markets to prioritize for targeting your big idea. New Zealand will always be on the edge – which is a good thing – but the world is coming closer. We just need to open our eyes to the biggest opportunity, then act. To win from the edge we need to get enraged with the well-worn path to the status quo and adopt new thinking about how to succeed in the world. We need to start making things happen with China.