Leaders need balls

The vision statement for Electronic Government (www.govt.nz/evision) released by National last week is exciting. It shows this government can get its hands dirty and offer leadership in building the knowledge economy.

The vision statement for Electronic Government (www.govt.nz/evision) released by National last week is exciting. It shows this government can get its hands dirty and offer leadership in building the knowledge economy. When I read the much-vaunted ITAG report on the Knowledge Economy my feeling was it was typical National Party and designed to not offend conservative sensibilities. We’ve probably all heard by now how interventionist ideas were left out. While it analyses our problems well it doesn’t set out a compelling vision of what we can do. In one place it says the government needs to develop a "clear vision and specific strategy" for the country, but in another it says the market must lead and the government’s job is to remove obstacles and champion the way ahead. The ITAG report endorses the current stand-offish approach to business, ignores the telecomms regulatory debacle, and describes the government’s role as leading by example through intervention in areas it is already funding, such as education and R&D. The Electronic Government vision document sets out the vision for a key component of the knowledge economy. The government now needs to extend it’s new-found visionary capabilities into other areas, especially general business leadership. New Zealand, kneecapped by ideologically-driven aversion to leadership, has being floundering since the famous tea break. "Championing" sounds very wishy-washy. Hasn’t Maurice Williamson been doing that for years? I think we know now that price-competition and free markets are purely about cost. When it comes to company and country growth we’re talking about the human side, the vision, the values, the strategy, getting consensus and generating enthusiasm. Real leadership also requires hard decisions that will involve intervention in the structure of the economy. The National party doesn’t need to get heavy handed, but it does need to show its hand. Your opinion counts. Don’t hesitate, email me at richard_wood@idg.co.nz. For publication in Computerworld, please send a copy of your letters to cw_letters@idg.co.nz

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