March 26, 2010

There are many looking for the Holy Grail of the “vision thing”.

Sir, amen was all my initial response to Martin Wolf’s “Back to the future imperils Britain” March 26, but then, thinking about the need of the “vision thing” I remembered something I had written in my book “Voice and Noise”, in which I recounted some of my reactions while an Executive Director of the World Bank.

Strategic Plan

Suppose the country was an island and that the only boat with which you could leave it for the next thirty years was scheduled for departure today. If you were an ambitious and hopeful 15-year-old who loved his country and that has just read the country’s Strategic Development Plan, would you stay or would you take the boat?

When we read these plans, we are left with two lingering doubts:

What’s in this plan that separates this country from all the rest? As it is obvious that all developing cannot occupy exactly the same place under the sun or find jobs in agriculture, what more is there to lead us—except for an “If it’s Tuesday it’s got to be Tanzania!”

Yes! All the basic necessary tools are included in the plan: macroeconomic stability, brushing your teeth, better governance, eating your breakfast. But, where are you really heading and where is that green valley that will motivate and inspire your efforts?”

It looks like countries share much more than what is believed too many of them seem to be looking for the Holy Grail of the “vision thing”… and Tanzania is not even an island.