Innovative, ingenious, inventive, self-reliant are all words used to describe the system D mentality (and economy), and also describe what is required to run any successful business: be it a corner store, an online business, or a startup. So maybe we can learn something from what is normally considered a second and third world phenomena.
System D Economy
System D originates from a french term débrouillard(e) that describes a resourceful and ingenious person. Then the word got shared and altered in former French colonies to describe a growing economic sector: inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurs who run businesses without being encumbered by regulations, bureaucracy, or potentially taxes: “l’economie de la débrouillard”. This got shortened by the street to System D.
The System D economy as a whole is now the second largest economy at 10 trillion a year, only behind the US economy. System D is all about not being dependent on the government, or an employer, but rather, like the reality on the street, it is about being self-reliant and improvising a solution to whatever situation you face. Other names for System D include the informal, or DIY economy.
But other names are less positive such as the underground or black-market economy. Robert Neuwirth, the author of, Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy, tries to make a clear distinction between under the radar economy and big time criminal activity:
I’m basically using the term to refer to all the economic activity that flies under the radar of government. So, unregistered, unregulated, untaxed, but not outright criminal—I don’t include gun-running, drugs, human trafficking, or things like that.
Whatever you might call it, System D is growing. It is not only the 2nd largest economy next to US, but in many developing countries it is the only part of the economy that is growing. According to the data gathered by Neurwirth half the workers of the world take part in the System D economy, and by 2020 this will likely grow to 2/3rds of the workers. And with the growing economic problems faced by developed nations System D is likely to expand and grow to a larger chunk of to all the world’s economies as it becomes part of the daily life of first world nations.
System D mentality
To grab the system D mentality you need to learn how to think fast, adapt and improvise to find a way to get the job done. It doesn’t have to be pretty but is has to get done. You need to be inventive, innovative, self-reliant, self-starting, and able to DIY. This nimble mentality is part of what makes System D so successful.
We are all aware of the difficulties with the economy, and many of you are probably feeling it personally. The question has now become what can you do about it – what can you do to have a better life? System D might be the answer you are looking for.
And really doesn’t the System D mentality and economy sound like any small business, or startup, run by a modern day entrepreneur?
Take things into your own hand: DIY. Look at the problem, be it income, or improving your health, and start using your noggin to figure out a solution. Find a need and fill it – service a need. Get things done.
The people involved in the DIY economy, in most cases without any formal education and far worse conditions than people from developed nations face, end up thriving. They might be the taxi driver in Istanbul that while driving around tourists runs a small business from his cell phone – be it a nightclub or restaurant, or the women with a street stand selling mobile phone minutes with rechargeable cards in Africa. But if something needs to be done they figure out a way to make it happen. And they make money doing it.
Please read the articles I have linked to so you can get a better idea than I am able to explain in this short blog post.
The people with the system D mentality are robust and highly adaptable to whatever changes comes along. And in most cases they are highly connected with many other people within their community. They have made connections so they can get access to what they need. What about you? Do you have these connections, can you innovate, adapt to whatever new situation you might face?
If so many people with far less benefits than most of the readers of this blog can thrive by using the power of their brains, with their ability to adapt and innovate then so should you be able to.
Legal and Legitimate System D
I am not arguing for breaking laws and not paying taxes, but rather for taking the same can do mentality and apply it to legal businesses. Be innovative, look for a problem that needs to solved in a better fashion then work your butt off to accomplish this. You need to think and act fast, and be highly adaptable to likely a continuous changing situation – our modern world.
This is only the first part of a series of System D, we will be exploring more aspects of this mentality and how you can grab it and make it your own. For now start thinking of how you can put System D into action in your life and business. Join the StartupYou newsletter and start your journey to a more adaptive life.