Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Today’s headlines may make us wonder if free market capitalism can survive its current challenges? 

After being the source for exceptional global progress, freedom, innovation and an improving standard of living for over 300 years, is capitalism still the best engine for creation and creativity, or as some proclaim, has it shifted to become an engine of destruction?

To date, no other competing model to capitalism has ever delivered the amount of global progress experienced during the past 3 plus centuries. Why? Because it relies on the conditions required for humans to succeed, the primary one being the value and rights of each individual, characterized by private ownership of property, rather than state control.

Capitalism provides the freedom for each of us to pursue opportunities that can increase our earnings and property, improving our lives and those of our families. We choose how much we will risk to accomplish this. We are curious to explore what lies ahead, why pursuing it could make things better, and how leveraging our individual initiative and gifts can help us reach it. This quest is what fuels innovation, and the competition that sustains progress. The resulting economic benefits nurture the freedoms we enjoy, including the political freedom to continually improve as a community so that our individual rights and liberty are preserved. 

Whatever destruction capitalism has produced is creative destruction, the deliberate challenging of the status quo and dismantling of long-standing practices in order to enable innovations like the assembly line, space flight and the internet. Private and publicly-traded organizations share the risk and reward of explorations and resulting innovations, generating the means for individuals working in those companies to share in the generated prosperity that enables individual dreams to be fulfilled.   

During all those 300 plus years of productive capitalism, it has survived by adapting to the evolving world in which it operates. The latest evolution reflects an increased awareness of the contributions which people make to the success of the organizations that employ them, and thus to the sustainability of capitalism. Capitalism isn’t a perfect model; since humans invented it, how could it be? But it’s still the most proven, productive way for people to earn the benefits of their individual liberty. 

Jack Welch once stated that: “An organization’s ability to learn, and to rapidly translate that learning into action, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” It’s the people in an organization that produce this advantage and its resulting success, exercising their freedom to invest their talents and energy in their chosen company. It’s their leaders who create the conditions which enable them to learn, grow and act, to efficiently contribute their energy towards the curiosity, innovation and improvement that achieves goals and propels progress.

How do you enable your people to strengthen your company’s competitive advantage?