It’s time to pay up
For too long Hong Kong has relied on the innovation and creativity of previous generations.
It’s time to pay up
5 min read
Words by Tim Ho
Photography by Susan B. Kason
A designer gets a stream of requests for work on great projects now because in his past as a junior designer, he did something courageous and extraordinary.
A photographer is failing to make the transition from wedding photography to high-end fashion shoots because they have not commit to change, they have not gone out of their way to make that change happen.
Everyone has to pay their dues.
The same goes for cities and companies.
In 1997, Hong Kong launched a contactless payment system called the Octopus Card. At the time, it was revolutionary and a huge feat that many other cities would admire and replicate in their own way as we have seen with the Oyster Card in London.
At the end of the twentieth century, Hong Kong was the centre of Asia’s soft power. From Bruce Lee popularising Kung Fu, to rock band Beyond, and a burgeoning film industry thanks to talented directors such as Stephen Chow, Wong Kar-wai and John Woo. Many of us grew up watching these films within Hong Kong and beyond; our colleague Lan Phan fondly remembers growing up watching Hong Kong movies and TV shows in Vietnam in the 90s.
The innovation and creativity – the dues we (or rather, our parents’ generation) have paid – has enabled us to enjoy rewards for the past ten years. But this is not a limitless supply, and is now dried up.
Many Hong Kong companies we know have unfortunately lost their appetite to innovate, relying too heavily on the old mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Leaders have lost sight on ways to provide true value through their products or services. They believe things should be run the same as before when they were successful financially, when we had less competition as a city, when tourists and consumers were not as fast-learning and sophisticated.
Rewarding times are exciting, it makes us feel confident, it tells us that we’ve “made it”. But when companies get too comfortable and stop paying their dues, the reward runs out. That’s when they suddenly find themselves in complete irrelevance.
It’s no secret that Hong Kong has been having a lot of difficulties as a city, but we are extremely good at adapting. We are now presented with the best opportunity ever to innovate, to lose hope on quick fixes and start rebuilding values from the ground up.