WTF Is Going On?

I am a big fan of The Daily Show, particularly of the segments that question WTF is going on (I will save you the #*% spelling that gets used). I have up close and personal experience with that, as I lost my job last week. Yikes, 35 years in the business and involuntary departure for the first time. The economy stinks, but it’s difficult to grasp unless it hits close. Now the 35 years of networking starts to pay off a bit differently. The thing is, uncertainty is part of life, and change can be exciting. But, a lot of uncertainty and the accompanying changes, like we have going on right now, can be a bit disorienting.

Why? For one thing, we are facing a new administration, which depending on your view is going to be better or worse than what we have had for the last eight years. My first observation is that we all are impacted, whether we know it or not, by global relationships. We collectively cannot continue to operate in the “our way or the highway” mode or under the assumption that we are the only ones with the wisdom to do the right thing. Most global companies have grown to understand this; we need to infuse that thinking into business (and government) at all levels. Our standing in world opinion has suffered monumentally; we cannot continue to operate without regard to the majority of the world’s population.

Then there is the economy. What is going to happen? The economy runs on confidence. Clearly investors, banks and people on the street are continuing to experience a shortage of confidence (or fear), which at some level is leading to irrational actions that collectively have a major impact, on everyone. I saw on CNBC this morning that “cash is the best place to be.” That may help individuals, but it sure does not help the economy as a whole and it is the behavior that appears to be leading to the reluctance of the bailed out banks to actually make the money available. What’s going to happen? Will the Democrats drain away the profit incentive? Will we make the right guess about which policies led us here and need to be changed? Who knows, but clearly inaction or complete removal of restrictions, regulation, or government is not going to help the majority.

In the long run, I am confident that the right leaders, listening to the right advisors will make sound choices and provide leadership that will be inspiring to us and other countries. Confidence will build, the market will correct, and there will be money to be made.

There is much to do; the manufacturing sector has suffered the consequences of world trade with no benefit. Healthcare, well you know. Nothing is behaving in familiar ways, but change is inevitable. We need to adjust.

Until last week, Dennis Shelly led ARCADIS’ Transaction Services Practice in North America. He has more than 30 years of professional experience and provides strategic due diligence, environmental management and compliance services to corporations, financial groups and their counsel. Shelly also has extensive experience conducting and managing environmental due diligence services on transactions of all sizes on a local to global scale.