BBC did an hour-long show today with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the groundbreaking book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Taleb’s thesis is that we humans tend to be “blind” to major (a/k/a black swan) events.
During the show, an audience member who announced that he was from Vietnam, asked Taleb whether there are any cultural differences regarding black swan events. Taleb and the announcer then did a fairly short riff on how failure is a “badge of honor” in Silicon Valley and on the West Coast of the United States, but is viewed far more negatively on the East Coast of the United States and in England, and even more to be avoided “in Asia.”
I am going to be speaking at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa in late February on protecting your IP in China, and as a bit of a prelude to that, I am participating next week in a free online webinar that asks “Can China Innovate?” Now I do not think that I would be giving too much away by saying that my answer to that question is, yes, of course it can, because it has. Rather, the question is what changes must we see in China for it to increase its innovation so as to even come close to the United States as an innovation powerhouse?
The bulk of my talk is going to focus on the legal aspects of China IP that need to change/improve for China to increase its innovation, but the BBC show really did get me to thinking about the cultural aspects as well. Does China have a risk averse culture? I don’t think that is true overall, especially since it is extremely entrepreneurial. Yet, it also strikes me that far too many of China’s best and brightest view a government job as their highest and best use/opportunity and governments are just not going to be the font of much innovation.
So does Mainland China have a culture well suited for innovation?
You tell me.
What do you think?