OPINION: It's not unlike Field Marshall Haig's cunning new plan to attack the German front lines, succinctly captured by Captain Blackadder: "So, we're going to climb out of our trenches and walk very slowly towards the enemy, exactly as we have done 17 times before?"
It failed of course. History and psychiatry both prove that continually behaving in the same way and expecting a different outcome simply doesn't work.
So when are we going to behave differently in New Zealand? And, importantly, when are we going to back ourselves? Even more importantly - when are we going to stop myopically chasing Australia? We are playing an Aussie game with Aussie rules. And we'll lose.
And we'll destroy value for New Zealand in the process. Closing the Gap has become a yawn for many New Zealanders; particularly those in small business.
We are fighting a war of economic attrition that we are not equipped to win. Climbing out of the trenches and walking slowly towards the widening GDP gap, against a mineral and resources rich country, is an uncreative plan that continually fails us.
Luckily we have creative strategic alternatives. One is greater investment in New Zealand's breadth of competence which, in addition to the depth of our established primary industries, includes agri-tech and bio-tech IP (intellectual property).
For example, the world is in dire need of food security solutions and New Zealand has the wherewithal to provide it. Much of the world is starving and thirsty and physically sick (the latter because of the former two).
Not only do we have abundant food and water, we have the IP to export the technology. Imagine if New Zealand could lead the world in food security. If we do, we will create a firm base from which a range of SME's can grow; domestically and export focused.
And not only could we sell the IP to Middle Eastern and African countries, but we could lead its execution by ensuring it works in these environments. Linking our world class science to our already globally proven practical experience will create significant value for New Zealand; literally billions of dollars.
Chasing our big cousins across the Tasman down an iron ore mine will not.
It's a well-kept secret but we have world class scientists creating world class ideas. I get to witness this as chair of the University of Waikato's commercialisation company and as a director of Antarctica NZ.
Our scientists are globally respected and make significant contributions to leadership thinking on the world stage.
We live in an era where discovery is the new currency and the success with which nations can foster the climate for innovation will determine their future prosperity.
New Zealand is no different. We just need to be world class at backing ourselves.
The bottom line - literally - is that we need to significantly increase the execution of commercially viable ideas. Allowing the status quo to continue is not an option.
Austerity measures are no different to General Haig's uncreative and hapless plan. New Zealand has adopted a defensive strategy and, ultimately, it won't work.
Living in the trenches is psychologically destructive and bad for morale. We have the opportunity to climb out and start an out-flanking manoeuvre that encompasses lifting our innovative capacity and increasing our business sophistication.
This plan - the benefits of which will take time - could re-establish New Zealand's economic firm base.
- © Fairfax NZ News