At last, agreement has been reached between the US Congress and Senate about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as noted in a blog entry on the White House web site. This is an extraordinary effort that we all hope will have a positive effect on the economy and will trigger what is required to reignite the economy. Other countries, such as Australia, are also in the process of approving similar plans.
I am no economist and there are different opinions about whether this is the right step to take and all sorts of speculations about whether it is enough to trigger a sustainable recovery. All this though makes me reflect that investing money wisely from different stimulus packages is as important as the size of these packages, if not more. I do assume that many organizations in the private and public sector will do whatever they can to access these funds. And I assume that their business and IT consultants (and vendors) will be helping them, wherever possible, articulate a way to get their fair share of the funding. But what if everybody gets a little slice of the cake? Isn’t there a risk that individual investments lack the critical mass to really ignite sustainable growth?
This poses a very delicate social responsibility issue. Should consultants aim at helping their individual clients fill a budget hole? Or should they take a broader view and exercise discretion in what advice they provide to whom?
Any consultant in his or her right mind would say that helping clients get a share of the stimulus package is the only viable option. Some may be prepared to go as far as helping clients understand whether that money would really put them on the path of sustainable recovery, although they would end up doing whatever the client wants. But who would ever give up on a client or even advise the client against accessing money that could be vital in the short term?
Well, these are truly extraordinary times. Just today I have read three times the word “depression”: it was in the title of a newly published book, and in two articles referring to statements by the IMF Chief and the UK Prime Minister. Three times in a day, while hopping around Australia? Does not look like a coincidence. In these extraordinary times, we may have to take very unusual steps.
So I would like to invite those consultants and vendors who are sharpening their teeth and focusing their best brains on opportunities emerging from various stimulus packages, to ask themselves:
- Do we bear a responsibility in making sure that these packages work for the benefit of the economy as a whole or should we care only about benefits to our clients and ourselves? And, if we do,
- How can we discharge this responsibility without damaging our clients’ trust as well as our stakeholders’ legitimate interests?