> What are the opportunities in non-Western civilizations? Can they build global innovative products and services? Can the next Steve Jobs be Brazilian? > Talk given at TEDxFIAP in Sao Paulo in November 2011.
I spent most of my
working life (11 years) overseas, especially in Japan, China, After living Korea and USA. My realized that “The Rest” wasrather complex. South in many countries, I cultural DNA has become a bit more complex.
10 years in Asia’s Digital
Space! 4 years! 1 year! 5 years!Living in Japan, Korea and China showed me that even “Asia” was a strange and Western-centric concept. Their online cultures were also very different.
Europe! Korea! China! Gutenberg (1450)!
Metal (1230)! Bi Sheng (1040)!At school, I learned it was invented by Gutenberg. In Korea I learned they had a metal type 200 years earlier. Finally in China they had a wooden one circa 1040.
#0! What you have learned
can be ! wrong!The ﬁrst surprise for a Western guy (who might tend to believe the West invented everything) is realizing that what you thought was right is actually wrong.
#1! Ideas don’t have a!
nationality!Another is to realize that ideas are just coming to people. They do not have a nationality, though countries use them for their “branding”.
#2! Things can be invented!
more than once!Also, things can be invented several times independently. “Reinventing the wheel” is a famous expression. Despite the Internet, it still happens for many things nowadays.
#3! Time gap can be!
bridged!Imagine what the world would look like if the West had used the movable type 400 years earlier! Your guesses are welcome at benjamin [at] plus8star.com
它 山 #4!之 石
Foreign stones!， can polish !可 your jade!以 攻 玉 Some ideas are not born in the best place for them to thrive: Chinese has thousands of characters – not handy for printing – European languages have just a few dozens!
Civilizations! Western! Chinese! Muslim! Indian!
Orthodox! Japanese! African! Latin American!Looking at the world by civilizations rather than countries help understand the cultural and market afﬁnities. Indonesia is closer to the Middle-East than to Australia or Singapore!
Foreign vs. Natives! Google! Baidu!
Softbank! NHN! Yandex! Facebook! Alibaba! Rakuten! Nexon! Mail.ru! Amazon! Tencent! DeNA! eBay! Netease! Gree! Priceline! Sina! Yahoo!! Salesforce! Liberty Interactive! LinkedIn!Among the top 22 Internet companies, more than half are non-US. More, they are dominant in their own civilization. There should be some in the Latin American soon too (5 years?)
Rebranding of Innovation! YES! SIMILAR?!
COPYCAT!! NO! DISMISS! YES! SUCCEED IN IT’S AMERICAN!! USA?!Non-US innovation tends to be dismissed because it it whether qualiﬁed as “copycat” (regardless of details), or dismissed until it reaches US shores, where it is rebranded as “American”.
Nationality is a BRAND! Made
in > select country <!Nationality is really just a brand. Most countries don’t have a very strong brand and companies prefer to look American, especially to sell in the US!
No Direct Equivalent!The reality is
that there are no two exactly same companies: any “copycat” has to adapt to evolve and survive in its own ecosystem. What really matter are those differences.
Advantage: Locals! . Cultural ﬁt!
. Market knowledge!The key advantages of local players are their cultural ﬁt and market knowledge. Also, a local entrepreneur has more at stake than a “country manager” of a foreign company.
5C’s of Innovation™! 1. Copy!
2. Competition! 3. Constraints! 4. Combination! 5. Context! Powerful forces shape innovation: copy is the natural start – ideas drift around the world then evolve from theredue to competition, constraints (gdp/capita, etc.), combination & context (demogaphy, geography, policies, etc.)
Tencent’s QQ | Made for
China!Tencent in China embodies the “5C’s”: started from ICQ (Israel), combined with avatars fromKorea, changed its business model from B2B ads to B2C digital goods and sorted payment.
Product Innovation! . Design! .
Financing! . Production! . Distribution!Making stuff has become way cheaper. Platforms like Kickstarter allow you to ﬁnd an audience and ﬁnance a project before you go into production!
Asia do it for the
kids. A Swedish friend was relocating to Singapore with his family and his friends asked him “what about the kids?”. Heresponded that he did not want his kids to grow up in a depressed environment. He was moving to Asia “for the kids”. Living in a growing and optimistic environment is a great asset, and it’s not just in some places in Asia!
What does make a huge
difference is the cheering. In the US, this is a strong part of the culture. Other countries should learn from that!
In France, we are quick
at criticizing things. In Germany, they even have a word for “rejoicing of the misfortune of others”. Not really a cheering culture.
“China searches for the next
Steve Jobs” “Why the next Steve Jobs will be Asian” So will the next Steve Jobs be Chinese? Asian? Inc. Magazine says it might be because talented Asian students can’t get a US visa – otherwise the next Steve Jobs would be American!