I have some bad news. As I chat with Estonians that I know, not one person has said that he or she is satisfied with the vision of the current leadership. To the contrary, all have agreed that there is a vacuum at the top. A focus on trivia, rather than a programme for the future. If I am missing something here — PLEASE comment back. I would love to hear the vision … if there is one.
Ok — just for fun, lets assume I am right, and we are in power. We need to come up with something fast. What should this type of vision look like? It should build on what has happened so far. Estonian prosperity has been based on strategic investments in profitable enterprises — from abroad. The problem is that we have run short of favorable investment targets. We also are not targeting our own investments in the next strategic areas.
So — what are those? How about taking the advice of Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM. Sam has been advising the Obama transition team on what the US government should invest in, and his advice is very interesting. First, the size of the investment is less important than where it goes. Second, it should go to promote innovation rather than just renovation. More concretely, Palmisano would target three areas — smart grids, health-care IT and broadband as areas with high multiplier effects. Sam writes also about the types of investment that would work in these areas. Interesting and constructive. Larry Lessig thinks Sam nailed this one. It also addresses the Krugman complaint that so far the Obama stimulus package is too small. Good for us, as we do not have buckets of money.
My quick thought — the Estonian government should copy the vision. We need an analysis like the one Palmisano did, and a follow up plan that is right for us. Or if this is too much to take on, we should just copy what we can from Palmisano’s plan.
But I do think we need a new vision fast.
FOLLOW - For comparison, here is a view from Iceland (much harder hit than Estonia) on what it needs to do to come out of the current mess.
If you want to sustain the high quality of life here, you have to be creative,” … To this end the initiative is establishing a so-called ideas lab, a sort of mass rain dance or think tanks to precipitate large-scale brainstorming. However, Idea House seeks to engage the nation’s brightest minds not only to devise solutions, but also to “encourage people to stay and rebuild”, that is, to keep us engaged and stem the real threat of brain drain.
2d FOLLOW - Thinking further, we might take into account that investments in targeted areas are meant to enable (or empower) people — not just to build cool technology. This is a great point that Fred Wilson makes about Twitter. Nice post.