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by: Bernard Teo

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List of Categories : Database * Technology * Commentary * Singapore * Travel *

Mon 19 Jun 2006

Thinking Different about Thinking Different

Category : Commentary/aboutThinkingDifferent.txt

I was reading this article about "Why Startups Condense in America". Going down the list of reasons :

1. The US Allows Immigration,
2. The US Is a Rich Country,

until I reached
3. The US Is Not (Yet) a Police State,

and I read :

"Another country I could see wanting to have a silicon valley is China. But I doubt they could do it yet either ... Singapore would face a similar problem. Singapore seems very aware of the importance of encouraging startups. But while energetic government intervention may be able to make a port run efficiently, it can't coax startups into existence. A state that bans chewing gum has a long way to go before it could create a San Francisco."

See what I mean? About people rejecting perfectly workable solutions to societal problems on the grounds of ideological purity. "Banning chewing gum? What sacrilege."

Actually, thinking different for a moment, I've often felt that a student of business could learn a lot from studying two lessons - 1. from Apple (about how to break through against a strong incumbent in the face of overwhelming odds), and 2. from the founding of modern-day Singapore (about how to create something from out of absolutely nothing - no hinterland, no agriculture, no water, on an island the size of a postage stamp).

There's a book I have, "Heart Work" (you can't find it on Amazon), that tells the story about how these guys in the economic development board brought business to Singapore over the last 40 years and there were some amazing stories, stories of spunk and resourcefulness, of what Guy Kawasaki would call chutzpah, e.g.,

"... the story of Philip Yeo selling land to a chemical company CEO while it was still underwater ..."

So, there are start-up lessons to be learnt here. The point I am making is that Thinking Different cuts both ways, and we can question the received wisdom, even those of the progressive, liberal persuasion.

Posted at 9:04AM UTC | permalink

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