Despite exceptional rates of entrepreneurialism and a highly innovative culture, New Zealand continues to lag in terms of economic performance. But a new study commissioned by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise points to some of our self limiting cultural attributes.
Being a nation built upon successive waves of largely working class migrants, it comes as no surprise that practical self reliance and a tendency to under-value intellectual assets and capabilities, feature strongly in our national psyche. Sometimes the very attributes that make us strong, can also be our undoing.
Perhaps that it is why I have found it refreshing to work with some recently arrived skilled migrants. It has forced me to confront some of my own self-limiting behaviours and to adjust my success horizon. In fact it has challenged me to redefine exactly what success looks like.
The NZT&E report suggests that it’s not just about working smarter to create more economic value, it’s also about capturing that value. It is not sufficient simply to be innovative (which we are already). I think what they are trying to say is that we undervalue the intangible assets like intellectual property and customer relationships.
The report author proposes adding value by not only addressing the cultural peculiarities that sometimes afflict us but also by ensuring that we create value through other channels such as licensing and transfer of intellectual assets. For example at ideegeo we not only provide domain management through iWantMyName, but we also license out the software to other registrars.
It is also suggested in the study that we have deeply embedded cultures within our organisations and a “commodity trading psyche” that sometimes impedes us from getting to know our offshore customers. We need to get better at relationship building. Perhaps the producers of goods, targetted by this report, could learn from how web based businesses create value through open communication environments, knowledge-sharing and the construction of social capital as a means to building intangible value within business.