20 February 2006

Exploring Innovation as a Culture

We have recently sent a response proposal – Exploring Innovation as a Culture – to the Dutch Ministry responsible for the Innovation Platform. You can download the document here.

We took the approach of outside looking in, and yet grounded in decades of experience from living in The Netherlands. Many of us come from other countries, and some of us are Dutch and have lived in other countries. With this unique perspective, we can see patterns of behavior that perpetuate an old way of thinking. It’s this old way of thinking that keeps The Netherlands from realizing its innovative potential. They keep addressing the problems in the same way because this kind of participation makes them part of the problem they’re trying to resolve. This isn't new, but it helps if someone points this out in a constructive way.

Our culture here in The Netherlands is risk aversive and not given to excellence in performance – two essential criteria that hold innovative behavior hostage. Innovation requires taking risks and doing things differently – and making mistakes!...so that we can learn from them.

We have proposed that The Netherlands could address these contradictions in their culture by opening up new dialogue and building practices that open a path forward – based on HOW they go about exploring innovation as a culture. A few of the highlights include:
  • >>> starting with the foundation that the Dutch culture could evolve from risk aversion by taking calculated risks with experimental projects – and see the value of constructive failure, rather than punish it with financial rules that kill any thought of risking the effort.

  • >>> creating value streams rather than subsidized projects, which do not encourage a sense of excellence in performance – people need a rewarding and sustainable value circle, not hand-outs, which only perpetuate this entitlement behavior.

  • We’re curious how the Ministry will respond. We would love the opportunity to work together with others in this campaign, Exploring Innovation as a Culture. It benefits all of us.

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