Time for Cayman to “think different”

Reinvent or Die 

Part II:
Recapturing the secret to Cayman’s success

Part III:
How happy is Cayman?

Other Articles:
Public servants: gatekeepers or guides?”

Thoughts, ideas, insights to focus Cayman’s businesses on continually assessing and even reinventing themselves to compete in our rapidly changing world

A famous Apple Inc. TV ad talked about the “crazy ones” who “think different”. Please watch that ad on YouTube at http://bit.ly/reinventordie . When you do, please think of it in a Cayman context, and note the closing words:

“…Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, Are the ones who do.”

Apple are innovators. They don’t follow the herd. They don’t slavishly adhere to “conventional wisdom”. No, instead they develop their own assessment of what the customer wants, then innovate in compelling ways to deliver. Their latest product, the iPad. has many scratching their heads working out what gap in the market it fills. Meanwhile, Apple sold over a million units in less than a month after release.

Now, to the Cayman context, if “Cayman Inc.” was a company, would we be an Apple Inc., innovating and carving out a path with products the world simply has to have?

Or, instead, would we be more akin to the living fossil that is a Detroit motor company, fighting to keep doing what worked for them in years past, not seeing that the customer of today isn’t interested any more in what they have to sell?

In the past, “Cayman Inc.” was definitely an “Apple”, with the innovative way in which political and business leaders collaborated and quickly identified and took advantage of global business opportunities. Look back only over the last twenty years and see how our offshore finance business changed to adapt to the opportunities of fund administration and capital markets structuring, opportunities that just didn’t exist in any meaningful form before the 1990s, and that “Cayman Inc.” saw and grabbed a powerful global leadership role in.

Now, look now at our situation and what do we see? Unfortunately what is all too clear is a country where too many of us are focused on “conventional wisdom”, trying to protect business sectors we once had, but that the global market has irrevocably weakened, instead of remembering what made our economy the envy of so many, our spirit of innovation and co-operation.

Cayman is a small country, but small can be a significant competitive advantage. Small can be beautiful and a major strength if our small country pools its resources and our political and business leaders pull together to maximise the resources and assets we have in competing for business on the global stage. However, this can only happen if we are willing to “think different”, to think we can change the world.

I travel frequently, encouraging businesses to innovate, to reinvent, to, if you will, “think different”.  In this challenging economy, many see challenges, I look for opportunities. I see a world where so many burgeoning industries are virtual and talent is mobile, so I see the opportunity to bring digital media companies to Cayman.

I see a Cayman where the “conventional wisdom” is that direct taxation is all bad, but I see an opportunity to use this to help make our national budget sustainable for the long term, but with tax rates set at fraction of those in competitor countries that are seeing their tax rates skyrocket.

Recently the leadership of Cayman’s own Gene Thompson in facilitating bringing Dr Shetty’s highly innovative medical tourism project to Cayman is just the kind of “crazy” thinking Cayman needs. Gene never doubted he could help change Cayman.

Let’s all be crazy enough to think we can help change “Cayman Inc”. You never know, perhaps we might just do it, if we only “think different”.

Email [email protected] with your thoughts and ideas on how Cayman Inc can think different. Next month’s column will take your ideas. Remember, there is no such thing as a crazy idea!