Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Culture of Failure

March 16th, 2004 · No Comments

Thomas Friedman recently wrote about America’s real edge being its institutions that nurture innovation. Another advantage is the risk-taking culture and the culture of failure.

It used to be one of the most contrarian aspects of the culture of Silicon Valley — rewarding failure. Entreprenuers who took risks and developed companies that ultimately failed were seen in the positive. People with real learning experiences that ultimately make them better entreprenuers. In risk management, without failures to model you have models doomed to fail.

Dan Gillmor writes how Silicon Valley is losing its cultural advantage.

We still have one big advantage: risk-taking. More than any other developed nation, the United States encourages people to take economic risks, and our renewed culture of entrepreneurialism has brought us a long way in recent years.

But other places are moving in that direction, too. They have a long way to go, but as the rule of law grows and societies learn to see failure (at least the right kind) as something to value, not find shame in, America’s lead even here will shrink.

I’m often asked, when visiting other parts of America and the world, why Silicon Valley has been such an economic powerhouse for so long. I tick off key reasons, including a risk-taking culture; lots of investment capital; smart, well-educated people who work hard; and great research universities. To some extent, the nation as a whole shares those qualities.

America isn’t losing any of those assets. But the rest of the world, especially Asia, is gaining all of them, and now has a competitive wage advantage to boot.

Tags: Entrepreneurship

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