Mario's Corner - December 2019.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Why The United States Is Much Better At These Than Most Countries.

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I have been working lately with many international clients in start-ups and this has motivated my thinking as to why the United States is better at innovation than most countries.


​I now have worked and consulted in over sixty countries and one of the biggest differences I have seen is how Americans think about innovation and how they perform in start-ups compared to most countries.


For example, India has one of the largest concentrations of engineers and bright individuals in the planet.  Yet, this country lags in innovation when compared to the United States. Europe, and Singapore.  The same can be said about Japan.  Although this country is great at copying and improving on American concepts and processes, it has never created an Apple, Facebook, or Uber.  Even the United Kingdom and France, where many of the most avant-garde fashions and advertising agencies are, are not as astute when it comes to innovation as the United States is.  So - what is so unique about the U.S. that it creates such a healthy ecosystem where ideas seem to flourish, and start-ups can be found in many metropolitan areas?


I believe there are five key differentiators that enable the U.S. to have a healthy, innovative ecosystem that does not exist in many other countries - although it should.  These key differences are:


1. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD RISK AND FAILURE - Americans tend to believe that a person is not necessarily a failure if she or he does not succeed continuously.  What matters in the U.S. is whether or not the person is willing to try again.  How many times have we heard that "Everyone roots for the underdog?" or that "If you fail, try and try again?"  This attitude is very unique to the United States, probably because people are not defined by status as much as they are in places such as Europe - where heritage and status tend to be more dominant.


2. A HIGH TOLERANCE FOR RISK - Since we are on the subject, let's talk about risk.  Americans are willing to "bet the farm" on the next project or undertaking.  An example of this is Boeing, a company that has always been willing to bet that the next product will be successful since it usually cannibalizes the existing airplane line.  Apple is also a perfect example of this.  As Steve Jobs famously said, "I will rather cannibalize myself than have someone cannibalize me."  Yet another entrepreneur who has been willing to risk his fortune on the next (unproven) product is Elon Musk, who is now willing to bet the profits he has made so far on Tesla on a pickup that no one has driven yet.


3.  A LACK OF BUREAUCRACY - I have been doing quite a bit of business lately in India.  Although there are some great entrepreneurial companies, the bureaucracy and unnecessary regulations get in the way of their success.  Although there are many regulatory bodies in the U.S., they are in place to protect the consumer and the environment, not just to ensure things are done "as they always have been done."  This type of regulation (which also exists in France to protect the unions), inhibits entrepreneurship and freedom to experiment.


4.  FINANCIAL RESOURCES - Many countries do not have the resources to undertake large innovation efforts.  Although Singapore is one of the countries that are as great at innovation as the United States, the reality is that it will never have one-thousandth of the financial resources that the United States does.  This is because it is a very small country.  Additionally, the United States encourages large investment through a fair tax infrastructure, allowing Angels and Venture Capitalists (VCs) to make a good Return of Investment on their (risky) investments.  This is the one key reason why Silicon Valley exists.


5.  INTELLECTUAL RESOURCES AND A GREAT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM - In addition to my consulting practice, I also teach two courses at the business school at University of Massachusetts - one undergraduate and one graduate.  The percentage of international students is much higher than when I attended school.  One of the factors for this is, as one of my students from China explained it in my class last week, because "my manager told me that if I want to advance in this company, I have to get a MBA in the United States - that is why the company is paying for it."  Although most of us take it for granted, a degree from a U.S. educational institution, even with all its shortcomings and faults, is still considered one of the best in the world.  The reasons for this belief are many, but two are the fact that universities in the U.S. encourage the students to think for themselves and they do discourage "group-think."  This last factor is crucial.  Although students are more liberal than in the past, they still have the ability to attend whatever extracurricular activities they want to engage in, and no one tells them what is not allowed - since everything is.


There are many more reasons why the U.S. is better than most countries in entrepreneurship and innovation, but this is a good list that begins to show why this is so.

 

If you would like help with implementing an innovative, entrepreneurial organization, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time at mariocastaneda@bluesailconsulting.com


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Please do not hesitate to call me at 1 (617) 391-0347 or e-mail me at mariocastaneda@bluesailconsulting.com to talk about this or any other subject.  I always like to hear from clients and readers.  

 

Also, please feel free to read my interview with BostonVoyager magazine.  To read it, click here.

 

Additionally, please do not hesitate to contact us if you are facing strategic or business execution issues ranging from launching a product to improving your business effectiveness  We can help you to do this.

 

I look forward to seeing you here again in January.


​Happy Holidays!


Mario

 

Blue Sail Consulting: Business Planning, innovation, And Execution