As the World becomes more and more of a global village, developing a sense of our islands as a Caribbean collective is vital. It is vital to our remaining economically viable, but as a collective are we in the Caribbean experiencing what might be termed a “Caribbean EcoNo”.
A “Caribbean EcoNo” where we take one step forward and two steps back. It was a management guru, Peter Drucker, who is quoted as saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Let’s explore this saying and our “Caribbean EcoNo”.
There are many ways of living and conducting ourselves economically. “One way” is not “the way”, but it is an available option. As a collective, the Caribbean shares a social, political, historical, economic, and psychological context that forms a collective culture. Basically, our collective culture refers to ‘the way we do things in the Caribbean’. It is this way of doing things that seems to be making us an ideal breakfast choice for our competitors.
The idea is the hard work that goes into creating products in places such as the USA; where they encourage creativity, launching out, exploration of ideas…all part of their ‘creating’ and ‘creative’ culture. Then they do a great job of marketing their creations that have us in the Caribbean and others places craving their products.
Our culture has been one of being slow to change. We might have heard of the saying “go hard or go home”. After observing our Metropolis, we can be sure that they go hard, a major part of which is continually maintaining a turnover rate of creativity and ideas that guide the next produce and/or product. If inclined to query this suggestion, then just consider how we in the Caribbean await the ‘newest trends’ to follow, be it in clothing, conduct or slang.
Yet, while we readily adopt the foreign products, we are so much slower to adapt our past products to new global dynamics. What’s the result? Our “Caribbean EcoNo”…one step forward as we talk/plan/prepare with two steps backward as we continue to over-consume the foreign and under-produce the collective for global consumption. Could it be that our culture requires a new diet? A diet where we begin to create an education system that targets the creation of critical thinking and creativity instead of compliance and academic overload since the latter at best prepares one to mainly consume. In order to curb our Caribbean “EcoNo” culture, it seems our EAGLE needs to begin taking flight, is an appropriate acronym.
Each individual Caribbean territory presents its own culture to the world, and some do it a bit more competently than others. But what of cross-cultural competence? Across the Caribbean, who or what forms our collective culture? This is much bigger than the different isles being showcased during Caribana, https://www.caribanatoronto.com/event/caribanaparade.
It is about taking time to develop a cross-cultural brand beyond Carnival that appeals globally. Yes, a global brand like KFC, like Nike, and the many that we know and love and embrace throughout the Caribbean because of its 24/7 appeal.
One music producer put it nicely, ‘the 2-day jam’ can only appeal for so long in the 365-day year. So, why not grow and produce a cross-cultural competitive brand? Again “Caribbean EcoNo”! Sure our music performing artistes from throughout the Caribbean are and continue to achieve worldwide acclaim, but do we really rake in sustainable development from it? Or do we get boasting rights? It was Mother Theresa who noted that “Together we can do great things”.
To do great things we need performance, as is said: “performance beats ‘ole talk’ every time”. Have you ever heard it mentioned how in the Caribbean we take a laissez-faire approach to work? However, this approach, many suggest, takes a ‘180-degree’ turn once we are operating outside of the Caribbean. Again, is this not a one step forward and two steps back? A “Caribbean EcoNo”? If we reduce performance and production at home and go away from home and maximize performance and production, then what? Would we not do well to ‘dish’ out for ourselves, as well as we, ‘dish’ it out for the other? Based on myriad collective comments and commentary about this ‘180-degree’ turn around, it seems we know this cultural approach to performances about ourselves, but what are we doing with that knowledge?
In all fairness, many might find the above-mentioned suggestions harsh, especially in light of all that has been tried and is being planned. Notwithstanding, all the above-mentioned remain for consideration as well as another cultural “EcoNo”. Evidence of CARICOM and its varied agendas give testament to our collective planning, however, is there a one step forward, two steps back occurring with execution? As mentioned earlier, we generally share a similar social and political environment in the Caribbean with each isle having some unique aspects. At times our shared social and political environment makes implementing of new projects very difficult.
Therefore, is it that by the very nature of our locale, that any plans developed must be massively drizzled with locally derived sustainable support and contingency plans? Otherwise, would we not remain developing plans gingerly with them being heavily influenced by external winds? In other words, giving much consideration to how the things ‘unseen’ and ‘within’ matter.
The great thing about culture is that it is not static. The more, as a collective, we appreciate our own individual culture, explore what really is our collective culture, and understand and challenge its shortcomings, the less our culture would have our strategies being eaten by others for breakfast.
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby holds a Master of Counselling and Bachelor of Psychology. She is a dynamic therapist, trained mediator; and educator since 2000. In addition to being a trained educator, mediator, and therapist, she is a certified Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Professional. Kerriann has also trained in cyber counseling and holds clinical registration with Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) & Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).
In mid-October 2015 she initiated operations of KarryOn geared toward the provision of a variety of enhancement and developmental services for the individual, groups and the organization; e-Coaching/Counseling, Mediation, EAP Services and the creative presentation of psycho-social information. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.