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COMMENTARY: How can BVI ‘build better’ with a real vision?

By Dickson Igwe, Contributor

Vision is critical to economics. The math, statistics, psychology, history, and sociology, that create the concepts and narratives of economic thought, are mere tools of the visionary. Vision is what economics is about. Vision makes economics a useful and desirable discipline.

OK. The adoption of a national vision is the greatest tool of security and prosperity a country can possess. Post Hurricanes Irma and Maria, vision and visionary leadership alone, will take the Virgin Islands to proverbial El Dorado.

The Disaster Recovery Agency must be part of a long-term vision and strategic plan for the Virgin Islands, to ensure, effective, short, and medium to long-term, economic recovery.

Now, all things begin with a vision. For Christians, God had a vision of a world where like-minded beings, with God’s nature, existed in paradisiacal perpetuity. Sadly, Adam and Eve spoiled the show.

Greatest inventions

And, the greatest inventions ever hatched in the hearts and minds of men, began with a vision of a better world for mankind, through thinking, discovery, experimentation, invention, and innovation.

If necessity is the mother of invention, the vision, is the crucible that holds the idea behind every invention.

The simple bicycle, the combustion engine, bullet train networks, the global airline and shipping ecosystems, scientific and medical discovery, social and political systems, the arts and architecture, dizzying engineering feats, modern academia, the ubiquitous internet, all of the preceding began with a single individual with a vision of tomorrow.

John D Rockefeller possessed a vision of an oil conglomerate that would rule global energy. Carnegie and Vanderbilt possessed visions of rail and financial networks that linked the American frontier with the eastern coast, knitting North America into one United States.

Walt Disney had a vision of a world of fantasy that would generate billions of dollars in revenue. These visionaries and their families were rewarded with vast wealth that remains potent to this day.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs began with visions of software and hardware networks. Two nerdy types: playing with devices in their parent’s garages that led to Microsoft and Apple, and unimaginable wealth.

Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos, have continued a North American legacy, of visionary innovation, that have placed Google, Facebook, and Amazon, at the epicentre of global digital technology, and a multi-trillion dollar internet industry driven by innovation and sourced mainly in tiny offices and labs in Silicon Valley. Today, Google is bigger than Boeing.

For better or for worse, the USA remains the centre for creativity, innovation, and visionary ideas.

Lavity Stoutt BVI’s greatest leader

Hamilton Lavity Stoutt, the greatest leader produced from these Virgin Islands was a visionary leader whose vision for these Virgin Islands brought an archipelago of tiny rural hamlets into the 21 century. His mantra: ‘without vision, the people perish’.

The Virgin Islands’ most famous citizen is Sir Richard Branson. Branson possessed a vision when he was a schoolboy in England of becoming a big music promoter. Branson achieved his dream. The dream led to Virgin Atlantic and a space-age business. Today, Branson is one of the world’s wealthiest men.

There is no effective planning without vision. Where a family, business, or country, wants to be, must be guided by vision. Vision is the light at the end of the tunnel. Vision is the ultimate destination. Vision is the dream.

The most powerful organisations on earth all began with a simple dream: a vision of the founder. Vision alone creates the mission and planning that turns dreams into reality.

‘Building bigger and better’ not a vision

Effective economic policy starts with a vision of where a country wants to end up. With a corporate vision, every employee of a business knows exactly where he or she should be and what he or she is expected to do, at each point in time.

So to a country: a country that possesses a national vision enables every citizen to participate in effective nation-building, from the young school child to the elderly matriarch. Vision is the framework for national success.

How can the Virgin Islands even begin to recover and rise to a better place if the country has no idea of where it wants to end up? Build bigger and better is not vision: it is just mantra.

Effective managers state that a vision must be SMART: specific, measured, achievable, realistic, and time-related. In the proceeding story, this writer will present his own strategic vision for the Virgin Islands over the next 20 years.

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9 Comments

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  1. Albion says:

    Dickson, I completely agree.

    One of the things that most concerns me about the Irma recovery efforts is the total *lack* of vision. There is no credible plan. There is no long term strategy. Government seems happy to scrape up what cash it can, and then do the same short-term fixes which it has always done.

    There will never be a better opportunity to rebuild with a long term vision than there is now. Instead we seem to just want to get back to the same flawed, broken down infrastructure that we have been operating under for decades. Bad roads, cheaply patched, only to wash away again in the next strong rain.

    “Where there is no vision, people perish”.

    Our current politicians have clearly forgotten that nugget of wisdom. Vision is in very short supply right now.

  2. E. Leonard says:

    Establishing a strong and enduring vision should be the first step forward for rebuilding the territory’s economic growth, development and sustainability. The territory is in crisis as result of two catastrophic hurricanes and a historic flood and it is critical that the territory has a strong vision. But what is a vision and is it the same as a mission?

    From my perspective, a vision is what a country, agency, company…….etc wants to become in the future, eg, the VI wanting to become the top, small tourist destination in the region. It is a dream. Agree with Dickson that as a starting point in the territory’s rebuilding it must a have a strong, clear vision. Lewis Carroll in Alice Adventures in Wonderland says: If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. The territory needs a clear destination and specific means for getting there. Further, it will take discipline to successfully pursue the vision; the vision is dynamic, not static.

    On the other hand, though some use vision and mission interchangeably, IMO, they are two separate processes. Vision was defined above so here is a simple definition of mission: a. Primary work of entity today, and b. Focus and direction of entity. Moreover, a vision needs a strong, focused mission and mission needs goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and action plans for success. Undoubtedly, the territory needs a strong and enduring vision, mission, national development plan……..etc to chart the way forward. In a twisted way, the disaster may have been a blessing in disguised, for it provides the territory with a challenging yet a great opportunity to move forward.

    • Eagle ad Buffalo says:

      “From my perspective, a vision is what a country, agency, company…….etc wants to become in the future, eg, the VI wanting to become the top, small tourist destination in the region.” This is a SMART (Specific, Measurable,Attainable, Realistic and Timely) vision.

      Nonetheless, the BVI has a lot of work to do to make this a reality. It needs to improve its education and training, healthcare, infrastructure(roads, port, water, sewer, electricity, telecommunications), ferry system, tourism facilities, attractions, customer service delivery, governing structure, attitude and behavioral change, economic linkages, economic diversification, natural and environmental resources preservation and protection, sports and entertainment, shed the dependency………..etc. let’s get busy.

      Let’s lead as eagles, not careen off the cliff as buffaloes.

  3. Same shite... says:

    Same nonsense everyday, we hide behind Governments when we are the f—ing problem.

    • Disinterested says:

      Ronald Regan, 40th president of the US, says: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Well, in the BVI, government is part of the problem. Residents are totally dependent on government. Political patronage is rampant in the BVI. During Slavery, our foreparents were totally dependent on slave masters.

      Today, though physical slavery was abolished in 1834, descendants are demonstrating the same dependency not on slave masters but government. Dependence is part of the political culture in the BVI. Both government and residents are part and parcel of this dependency.

      Nevertheless, the territory is currently in a difficult place and needs some sober planning to work its way out of the hole that it is in. The vision ting seems like a good start. I do not no much about vision but mek we du dis ting.

    • @ Same Shite says:

      Go back to your hole in the UK

  4. Diplomat says:

    The situational analysis is that the BVI was devastated by 2 catastrophic, Cat 5 hurricanes that resulted in vast damages to public and private property and a historic flood that inundated the territory in August and September 2017. In addition to the physical damage to public and private, the economy was the disrupted, unemployment increased, emigration increased, shortage of construction material, government services disrupted……..etc.

    Consequently, the territory has a binary choice. On the one hand, it can plough ahead rebuilding in like kind. Or on the other hand, it can take advantage of the current crisis situation and proceed with a more deliberate and comprehensive process to modernize, strengthen, and correct past mistakes and shortsightedness………..etc.

    True, much time has elapsed since the devastation that occurred in August and September 2017, respectively, and more progress should have made by now and more work put in place. But though many are suffering and in need of urgent help, haste makes waste and the territory should proceed with deliberate speed, taking advantage of the available opportunity.

    Moreover, like other bloggers, I concur that the territory should have a vision as a blue print in moving forward. A vision should be used as the driving force, the framework for fleshing out the recovery effort. The territory operating from the seat of its pants just for political mileage is faulty and wasteful and not in the best interest of the territory. Fail to plan and plan to fail. Planning is a key ingredient in the recovery process.

  5. Economics says:

    A good article Dickson! Vision is indeed needed, but as your article points out we also need visionary leaders to convey such direction. Not since H. Lavity have we had any such leader. Dr. Pickering certainly conveys a vision of environmental and economic sustainability through agriculture and fishing, and while good “green” initiatives are desirable, how economically feasible are they and how much does the voting public support such?

    I would defer to other bloggers to suggest leaders with the visionary traits we need as we face a once in a generation opportunity to truly rethink and implement a new economic future. Unfortunately, I am hard pressed to note any at this time.

  6. sam the man says:

    “Without a vision the people perish” – you are correct to highlight the worrying vacuum of good ideas for the future ….and not one NDP member has a credible vision they are just talk, talk, talk with a few photo shoots and carefully chosen press releases to make them look good or embarrassing social media releases! not hopeful as hurricane season is just round the corner…..

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