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Aikido Innovation for Ireland

In his book ‘Rules for Revolutionaries’ Guy Kawasaki (Apple’s Evangelist in the old days) talks about the need to ‘Create Like a God – Command Like a King – Work Like a Slave.’ It is a good book, sure the examples like many of these ‘guru’ books may have aged but I agree with the majority of the ideas and indeed teach many of them to students still.

One of the ideas he talks about early in the book is that of ‘aikido marketing’ or the idea that you turn an opponents strength into a weakness. So I propose (absurd as it might sound) Aikido Innovation – that Ireland can turn its perceived weaknesses into strengths. Yes, we are an innovative and creative country by our size, and indeed our size and relative position may be the real strength here. In the old days, when I was about to leave school to head to the dizzy heights of college and university, our economics book (amongst other non-truths) told us that Ireland was weak because we sat at the edge of Europe, almost making out that we were billy no mates in international affairs. In the last 20 years IDA Ireland has cleverly turned this into a strength: Ireland is now the gateway to Europe, not it’s Westerly most outpost. And this has worked. We can do it again. We are a good size for test marketing new products and new technologies (but we need to solve the issue of broadband and get large scale next generation wireless systems, and not just in the cities). We have good graduates, and an English speaking population, relatively good tax system and an inquisitive mind.

Innovation in the widest sense of the word is a strange place. Innovation can happen by accident, on purpose, by one person or many. Ireland has a great chance to let loose – we have to be allowed to experiment. Kawasaki goes on to talk about ‘fail quickly but last long.’ In other words, enough with the reports already. We know what we need to do, not let us get on with it. In the Academy we try things, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. That’s OK because we learn very quickly and we move on to bigger and better things. Ireland needs to start experimenting, and we need to accept failure (still a cultural issue here). More innovation, and less reports please.

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