According to an article I was reading in an HBR blog, Western Europe came to dominate the world over the long time period from 950AD to 1850AD for 3 reasons.
- They stopped Elites from expropriating property (ie they stopped rich vested interests from being able to steal anything anyone else created).
- They made contracts enforceable.
- The created a mindset of independent thinking, secularism, and saving money.
Those crazy Europeans and their world dominating ways.
But I started to wonder if history would repeat itself, but faster. And I wondered if we could see this coming.
Probably not, according to Georg Hegel:
“We learn from history that we do not learn from history”
But I still wondered if a modern version of the same 3 factors might predict which areas or groups might see the rise of highly competitive new organisations (lets call them lean startups) and which might see potential new organisations fall behind.
I know we are global now, but I think that the following might be a good checklist. Lean startups will boom where:
- Large companies and vested interests cannot appropriate property and ideas. Ie they cannot just use patent law or legal game-playing to crush small and innovative competitors.
- Small companies can enforce their rights without appalling bureaucracy or legal costs.
- The startup can create and exist in an environment that encourages a mindset of independent thinking, secularism, and saving money.
What do you think – Will history repeat? If so – can we learn from it?
If not, what factors will create the rise (or constrain the rise) of new organisations? Is it country specific, city specific or just world-wide?
My vote is it will be somewhat similar and that only a few areas will accidentally learn.