Breaking Tradition: The Importance of Critical Thinking to Create Innovative Approaches in Economic
Before we delve into the crux of our discussion today, let's take a moment to understand what we mean by 'critical thinking'. At its core, critical thinking is a disciplined, intellectual process that involves carefully and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information. It's about questioning assumptions, identifying biases, and making thoughtful decisions. Now, imagine applying this potent tool to economic development. What changes might we bring about?
For generations, we've been following conventional wisdom and established strategies to propel economic development. The well-trodden path, with its apparent security and predictability, often seems the safest bet. But is it the most efficient or effective route to sustainable economic growth? In this blog post, we argue it's time to challenge the status quo, to approach economic development through the lens of critical thinking, and to redefine our understanding of success.
Rethinking 'Doing it the Way We've Always Done It'
Traditional economic development has often revolved around chasing growth at any cost. This approach has produced remarkable gains over the years, but it's also led to issues like wealth inequality, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. The 'business as usual' mentality confines us to a box that stifles innovation and prevents us from seeing the broader implications of our decisions.
Applying critical thinking to economic development means questioning the norms. It allows us to break free from the 'this is how we've always done it' mindset and encourages us to explore novel ideas and innovative solutions.
Redefining Economic Success
How we define success significantly influences our strategic planning and decision-making processes. Traditionally, economic success has been predominantly measured in terms of jobs and investment on deals that we make to attract and retain businesses in our local economy. The expectation is that we see a growth in Gross Domestic Product. While GDP is a valuable tool for gauging an economy's production output, it doesn't necessarily reflect the well-being of citizens, environmental sustainability, or social equity.
Incorporating critical thinking into economic development challenges us to redefine success. We should seek a more comprehensive measurement that takes into account not just jobs, investment and GDP growth, but also indicators that reflect how people in the local economy are being affected. By doing so, we can formulate strategies that promote holistic development and long-term prosperity.
We need Novel Approaches to Economic Development to Meet Novel Demands
Economic Developers are seeing a change in trends from people and businesses in their local economy. The focus of economic development is increasingly shifting to “satisfaction” instead of “bottom line”. Some of the interests and expectations for our local economies are:
1. Sustainability: With increasing awareness about environmental issues, there's a
strong demand for sustainable practices in businesses. This includes reducing waste, lowering carbon emissions, using renewable energy sources, and implementing circular economy principles.
2. Localism: There's a growing trend toward supporting local businesses, products, and services. This not only helps to stimulate the local economy but also creates a sense of community, helps to reduce carbon footprints, and often results in better customer service.
3. Digitization: The pandemic accelerated the trend of digitization and online services. Businesses and consumers now expect digital access to services, from shopping to banking to remote work opportunities. This means local economies need to invest in digital infrastructure, like high-speed internet.
4. Inclusive Economic Development: Communities are demanding that economic development benefits everyone. This means creating opportunities for minority and marginalized populations, investing in affordable housing, and addressing income inequality.
5. Green Spaces and Quality of Life: As the pandemic has increased the value of outdoor spaces, communities are demanding more green spaces, bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly city planning. This improves the quality of life, which can attract more residents and businesses.
6. Resilience: Given the shocks from events like the pandemic and extreme weather
events, communities are demanding that local economies build resilience. This might mean diversifying the local economy, investing in resilient infrastructure, and planning for future disruptions.
7. Collaboration and Partnerships: Businesses are increasingly recognizing the benefits of collaboration, whether it's partnering with other businesses for mutual benefit, working with local colleges or universities on research and development, or engaging in public-private partnerships for community projects.
These trends reflect the evolving demands of people and businesses for local economies that are sustainable, inclusive, digital, and resilient, with a high quality of life.
These approaches require us to leverage local resources, promote sustainability and r
esilience, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. They represent a shift away from traditional, often top-down models of economic development, towards more inclusive and sustainable models.
Are Economic developers preparing properly to meet these demands?
The Road Ahead
Economic development is not a one-size-fits-all journey. The world is evolving, and our strategies must evolve with it. By rejecting the notion of 'doing it the way we've always done it' and employing critical thinking, we can redefine success and explore novel approaches that will truly make a difference. It's not an easy task, but it's a worthy one—because sustainable economic growth is about more than just numbers, it's about improving people's lives and safeguarding our planet.
At Infinite Sequence Economics, we believe in the power of new ideas and robust critical thinking to transform our economic landscapes. Stay tuned for more discussions as we continue to explore these topics and more.