Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Innovative City: Florence superior to Silicon Valley?

Saw this intriguing article written by Eric Weiner in the HBR. The writer suggested that the model to explore is Florence and not Silicon Valley if a city wants to be an innovation hub. Weiner suggested it is smarter and more practical to draw lessons from Florence than Silicon Valley. Methinks knowing your own city is the most important. After all what you are trying to achieve is to get winning habits and behavior from what you have got. Florence and Silicon Valley are just context sensitive cases of what had worked. Often we are not able to recreate a foreign spirit in the local context. Of course that is the possibility of the awful discovery that your city does not have what it takes to be an innovation hub if you are not willing to imbibe that foreign spirit. Then the question becomes how willing are you to be a commercial success?

I noticed subversive elements in Weiner's ideas which he generously provided from the aftermath of pandemics and total wars. A generation of leaders had been cleared off the deck from such disasters. A fresh generation fills the vacuum and innovation flourished. A stable city with an existing government would not welcome such transformational change. Therefore Weiner's ideas would not be popular with decision makers even if he is spot on, but I am not sure if he is. His thesis is not testable without existential consequences.

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