Life goes on after we’re gone. Why we need to plan for future generations.

Introducing ID2070 – a vision to sustain a thriving Aotearoa.

Simon Walker
CEO / Founder

“What New Zealand looks like in 50 years is a massive question.”

One that seems almost impossible to answer. The speed of global change makes us sit down and say: “We couldn’t possibly answer that – we don’t know enough.”

On the other hand, we all agree that we need change. Because what got us here won’t get us to where we want to be – even if we don’t know where that is.  

“But if we don’t know where we’re going, how do we know what changes we need to make?”

In my previous post, I spent a lot of time dissecting Ireland’s economic transformation and what we can learn from that as a similarly positioned agrarian producer.

I distilled it down to three things we need to learn:
  1. You can’t get rich growing stuff.
  1. You can’t boil the ocean.
  1. Lucky breaks are meaningless without execution.

“The question I left deliberately unanswered was ‘What does this mean in the New Zealand context?’”.

In this post, I’d like to explore this deeply because it needs a bit of unpacking.

I left the post with the comment that Ireland’s economic transformation had taken 50 years since joining the EU. This is an important insight – because we love to think in three-, five- and ten-year blocks when we plan as a nation. But what we really need is a long-term vision that aligns with our short-term plans.

Strategy or goals?

I believe most ‘strategies’ aren't really strategies – they’re overly detailed execution plans. Richard Rumelt, in his book Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, talks at length about mistaking goals for strategy.

“I’d take this a step further and say most of the time, we’re mistaking objectives for goals.”

Objectives are measures of specific outcomes – but they’re meaningless in the long run without a vision. Rumelt refers to this as “The Kernel” of strategy and is extremely specific in the way he defines it.

  1. First is the diagnosis. A simple statement that defines the nature of the challenge.
  1. Next is a guiding policy. An overarching approach is chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis (think of this as the vision, but more deeply defined).  
  1. Finally, come coherent actions. A set of actions that when coordinated together, work to accomplish the guiding policy.

This work is built using Rumelt’s framework because everyone has a theory on what we should do. But much of the time, we ignore the diagnosis entirely. Instead, we generally split the difference between guiding policy and coherent actions. It’s why we’re great at discussing it over dinner but not so good at generating action on the ground.

I believe that any vision built with the right values and intent is better than not having one.

“Perfect is the enemy of action, and too often, we unintentionally hold ourselves back with the idea that we must do the perfect thing.”

This ignores the massive compounding returns of incremental action. Besides, you can adjust all this stuff on the fly as you learn, anyway.  

After all, I don’t pretend to know what our world will look like in 2070. But I passionately believe we need to define what our place in that world could look like.

Introducing ID2070.
A vision for a better Aotearoa.

The vision that we are introducing today is called ID2070. The 2070 bit is self-explanatory. While “ID” is the vital part.

“Vision is not just a thing we do; it’s part of who we are. It’s an identity.”

Kerry Topp and I sensed New Zealand lacks an identity for the future. We need confidence in who we are on a regional and global stage to push Kiwis to do amazing things.

This identity is not just about winning commercially. The tagline for the initiative is:

“Sustaining thriving generations.”

That’s because we don’t just want to build an economy that works for the few; that simply doesn’t work for long-term economic growth. We’re aiming to create an economy that drives sustaining thriving generations across the next 50 years and beyond.  

“Imagine a world where our global economic success supports all of us living in the place we’d like to live.”

ID2070 is a vision we all own. It’s open-source Intellectual Property (IP) meant to be built on, modified and developed by anyone who wants to be part of it. All we ask is that you share our mission of a New Zealand that sustains thriving generations before you dive in.  

Our diagnosis.

In the 1950s, New Zealand was the third wealthiest country in the world by GDP per Capita (Purchasing Power Parity or PPP). However, by the time 2023 rolled around, we were 33rd in the world.  

So, what on earth happened?

Understanding our wealth per person as a nation relative to the rest of the world is vital to frame our diagnosis. We can’t build a nation that sustains thriving generations if we’re constantly trying to find smarter ways to divide up a shrinking per-person pie.  

“As New Zealanders, the nation of mince and cheese, shrinking pies should be against everything we stand for. So, let’s fix it together.”

Secondly, as referenced in my previous post, we can’t get rich by growing stuff.  

Here’s a list of countries that are ahead of us on the world GDP per capita (PPP) rankings.

Now, let’s rewrite this list, but only include countries that make the bulk of their export earnings from production (e.g. farming, fishing, forestry).

  1. New Zealand

This clearly shows that if we want to become a wealthier nation, a central part of our diagnosis must be to pivot away from agriculture production and export.  

So, NZ has two choices.
  1. Extraction. New Zealand doesn’t really have anything to extract. And if we did, we wouldn’t want to, anyway. Our nation values sustainability and our environment.
  1. Innovation. It’s the radical change we need to reach a better tomorrow.  

Our first insight isn’t exactly surprising. Many people have concluded that New Zealand needs to transition to an innovation economy to hit our future aspirations. But we’ve always struggled to turn this insight into coordinated action across the country. We love talking about it, but we need action now.

Sitting nicely beside this idea is our thinking around focus. As we know from the Irish example, clarity around what was sold and who to (product-market fit) was integral to the country’s economic transformation. It’s also integral to ours.  

“We are particularly good at thinking about what we want to sell and who we want to sell it to. The problem is, we rarely ask – ‘Do they want to buy it?’.”

It starts with finding our competitive advantages or asking ourselves what we’re exceptional at.

“However, what we’re good at is only half of the puzzle. The other half is who we sell to.”

We spend a lot of time and money on marketing New Zealand to glamourous global markets: the UK and Europe, the USA, China and Japan. However, many just aren’t the right fit for a couple of reasons.

  1. They’re too far away with populations too large for us to serve.
  1. But most importantly, they aren’t the right fit for our core competencies.  

The Americans, for example, are very good at a lot of the things that we are very good at.

“So, to transform our economic future, we need to sell the right stuff to the right market.”

Finally, this transformation needs to be driven by those who can make things happen. We tend to hope that our government (whoever it may be) will see the change required and take care of our problems for us. But they won’t.  

We also often look to our largest corporates to lead our economy for us, but they’re far more interested in maintaining their earnings-per-share.

“This means that those who can make things happen are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The organisations often touted as the most important economic engine in New Zealand. Usually defined as everyone from a one-man band business to a 100-person mid-sized company. In our case, the SME can be any business that’s privately held.  

“So, it can make fast decisions and grab growth opportunities with both hands when they suddenly arise.”

The challenge these businesses often face is they’re too focused on their own patch. This often results in a lack of clear vision and coordinated actions to take advantage of growth opportunities.  

“Our current methods of driving business growth at a centralized level don’t work, so we need to think of something new.”

This gives us the three components of the diagnosis used to develop our guiding policy.

  1. New Zealand needs to transition from a production-dominant economy to an innovation-driven economy.
  1. New Zealand needs to sell the right stuff to the right overseas markets.
  1. We need a mechanism for inspiring our growth-driven businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that arise from this transition.

Our guiding policy.

We propose an identity for the future of Aotearoa New Zealand, which weaves our culture and economy together.  

At the core of this identity is a reframing of who we are economically. From a nation reliant on the economic output of the fixed resources our land provides. To a county that leverages our cultural superpowers to build a vibrant ‘storytelling economy’. It’s the type of economy that will flourish while aiming to meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic goals our society wishes to meet.  

Introducing the storytelling economy.

A storytelling economy harnesses our exceptional abilities to explore, innovate and create. It focuses on the export of lightweight innovation and knowledge to specific markets. We know what NZ can achieve. We just need to tell our story better. It has the potential to drive up our value as an entire nation.

“Instead of the commodity opening the door, it’s our unique ability to communicate the compelling story of the Aotearoa New Zealand value proposition.”

Furthermore, we propose to focus this activity on a group of export partners who are.

  1. In need our of superpower skills.
  1. Regional neighbours.
  1. Markets we can feasibly serve.  

“These countries are ASEAN – specifically focused on Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and The Philippines.”

Our coherent actions.
“Without action, the world would still be an idea.”
– Georges F. Doriot, founder of INSEAD, Europe’s most prestigious business school

Up until this point, this concept is simply a nice idea. We believe we’ve hit some interesting insights and structured good thinking around what the future of New Zealand’s economy needs to look like. But it’s all meaningless without a set of coherent actions to execute our guiding policy.

“Meet our Mission of Impact, the core coherent action of our ID2070 vision.”

Instead of spending years trying to design the perfect plan for achieving our vision, we’ve developed a six-month program. It’s anyone’s to use and make their mark on – driving New Zealand towards a future that sustains thriving generations.

Here’s what a mission of impact looks like.


The lead sponsor (toa) of the mission sets out a call internally or externally, for collaboration to achieve a particular result aiming towards ID2070. This will result in a “crew” for the mission, driven by storytelling around purpose and outcomes.


The mission crew set about preparing for the mission. Gathering know-how and resources from the ecosystem around them and generating the buy-in from the ecosystem to support the mission.  

Conditions are set and agreed upon by the crew and stakeholders and need to drive commercial outcomes for everyone involved. Each mission should have “Inspire future missions” as one of its Win Conditions.  


The mission is executed. This happens with clear measures of success and return on investment aimed towards the Win Conditions.  


We’ll optimise future projects by holding post-mission debriefs and analysing learnings of preparation, doing and outcomes.  

You may ask questions like:

  • Did we meet our Win Conditions, and why/why not?
  • Were our Win Conditions appropriate?
  • How can we improve execution next time or conduct another mission?
  • Did this contribute to the overall vision of Identity 2070?
  • Does our purpose still align with that of Identity 2070?
  • Does what we've learned support the ongoing purpose of Identity 2070?


After each mission, look back, celebrate successes and tell stories inwardly and outwardly. Start to seed thinking around the next “call” for the next Mission of Impact.  

Our one goal for ID2070 is to inspire as many Missions of Impact as possible. Because once they’re started, they’re self-sustaining. The storytelling at the end of each mission drives future missions of impact. And as we learn, we improve our ability to execute these missions effectively and profitably.  

“This compounding effect will transform New Zealand’s economy for the better. “

What’s next?

We’re looking for those who want to be at the epicentre of action for impact to make Aotearoa New Zealand a society that sustains thriving generations. This initiative is not “owned” or looking to politicians to take on these challenges for us.  

“ID2070 seeks to leverage the collective knowledge, skill and desire of those who want Aotearoa New Zealand to thrive – not just survive.”

That’s why we’ve chosen to make this vision open source for anyone who wants to be part of it. Ultimately, collectively building Missions of Impact that move us towards our goal of being a storytelling economy that tops the world’s GDP per capita charts.  

“These missions will create a competitive advantage for you, your organisation and your customers, along with a new identity for Aotearoa New Zealand to embrace over the next 50 years.”

If you believe in an Aotearoa New Zealand that sustains thriving generations, we’d love your involvement in launching our first Missions of Impact. Let’s create an engine room to develop our storytelling economy, together.

Get in touch with or to discuss this concept further.

You can find the ID 2070 Launch Deck here.

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