Tom Stewart: Will Big Government Change The Rules Of Commerce?
Thomas A. Stewart is the Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer (CMKO) of the global management consulting firm Booz & Company. Stewart most recently served as editor and managing director of Harvard Business Review, and is a best-selling author, an authority on intellectual capital and knowledge management, and an influential thought leader on global management issues and ideas.
During Stewart’s six years with Harvard Business Review, the magazine was a two-time finalist for general excellence in the National Magazine Awards, and received an “Eddie” in 2007 from Folio Magazine.
Previously, Stewart served as the editorial director for Business 2.0 and as a member of Fortune’s Board of Editors. He is the author of two books, Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, and The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the 21st Century Organization, published by Doubleday Business in 1998 and 2003, respectively.
Stewart is a fellow of the World Economic Forum. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, and holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cass School of Business at City University, London.
Question: How can companies succeed under the Obama administration?
Tom Stewart: There are I think two approaches that companies need to take to think about how to respond to the fact that the US government and not just the US government, governments around the world are going to be taking a much more proactive point view about, about carbon. The first is, take a look at stimulus packages. I mean, take a look at, what’s the spending that is in the US government stimulus package, what’s the spending that’s in the Chinese government stimulus package, what’s the spending that’s in the stimulus packages in so far there is any in the European Union and sort of map that out. Some of my colleagues have actually done that with clients in the utilities industries and said look here is the package, here is where the investment is, here are the opportunities for you to participate in this, collect some of this money and put it to good use you know, building you know, better power plant sort of thing or cleaning up your green house gas emissions in this or develop or investing in a renewables. So that’s the first thing. It’s what the map in the stimulus opportunity. The second thing, I think you need to do is to sort of have a point of view of how carbon constraints are going to be imposed because there will be and they can be imposed in any number of ways. First of all, it could simply be imposed by price. You know, if oil goes back to 150 bucks a barrel, that’s a carbon constraint. So that’s one question, it’s a point of view about energy prices and how energy prices will change. Will they migrate differently from one fuel to another? The second is will there be Cap and Trade mechanisms and the third is will there be carbon taxes? And the fourth is will there be other government things like regulations? I mean, building standards, lead standards for buildings for example. These are not, this process you’re going to have to meet this kind of a regulatory standard in terms of efficiency for your products or efficiency for your buildings or efficiency for power plants or so on and so forth. So if you look at those 4 things, price, regulation, Cap and Trade or taxation, you got a sort of get a point of view and then you simply have to be aware of what’s going on, obviously there’s a big thing, a big international group under the auspices of the UN climaxing in Copenhagen in November which is looking at this you know, what will happen to the, it basically rewriting the Kyoto protocol, the next treaty there. There will be international stuff and there will be national stuff and you basically have to just sort of get people looking at that systematically so that you have a point of view. You have the opportunity to know what discussions are going on and can start making the investments that you need to make. Bearing in mind that a lot of these are long term investments you can’t just turn a dime around the buildings as you occupy. You can’t just turn on a dime around some of the fuels you use. So you’re going to have to start making plans now because when the rules come down, and they are going to come down. Advantage will come to those people who were ahead of the curve.
Booz & Company's Tom Stewart uncovers the hidden opportunities of the Obama administration.
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