Minister Joyce has the opportunity to redefine ‘failure’


Apparently, new super minister Steven Joyce (Minister of Science & Innovation, Economic Development and Tertiary Education, Skills & Employment), likes to dive deep into details of a new role or portfolio, before surfacing with a strategic direction.

So, as he tries to figure out the government’s lines of science and innovation attack for the coming three years; let him consider failure.

And, specifically in New Zealand’s case, with consideration of the Kiwi psyche, the opportunity he has to redefine so-called failure, and promote innovation.

Considering that Joyce is on the (hopefully) revenue creating side of the equation, how he ramps up the return on investment from his three portfolios is crucial, and pivotal for New Zealand.

Kiwis’ attitude to failure is often regarded as the first cousin of our tall poppy syndrome. The attitude may be, probably is, changing.

However, if Steven Joyce is looking for an easy win he could do much worse than further tweak our notion of failure.

As he cranks up the ‘innovation’ part of MSI, part of the message to Kiwis should be to have a go and more especially ‘have another go’.

‘Failure’ under such a scenario, can be defined as non-success due to a combination of factors…….assuming someone’s not an absolute idiot.

Alternatively, it could be as our American friends refer to it as ‘experience’. It was such experience that enabled Tait Electronics to re-emerge, phoenix-like when it went to the wall twice.

Joyce is sure to have experienced setbacks from when he set up Energy FM in 1984 and expanded it to become RadioWorks with 22 stations and 650 staff under its wing when it was sold in 2001.

He’ll appreciate that success isn’t an overnight thing, and that sometimes, in fact more than half the time, new businesses fail.

Particularly in the clever technology, smart use of natural resources, food and IT areas – sectors with potential for New Zealand to globally scale – a heck of a lot of businesses are going to fall over.

So what?

More important is that we learn the lessons, and apply them to the next venture.

Joyce has the opportunity to spout a new mantra on behalf of all New Zealanders.

It’s not necessarily something that bureaucrats lower down the science & innovation foodchain can do – since no government worker wants to be associated with ‘failure’.

Therefore Joyce, in throwing out a national challenge that success and its close cousin failure is to be celebrated and promoted, has a much better chance of cranking up the revenue side of the equation by giving ourselves permission to ‘have a go’.

Sure, there will be some failures.

But the ‘risk’ also is, there will be some outrageous successes.

The areas likely to take off are as Sir Paul Callaghan describes as niche/niche. That is, tightly defined segments of a larger business/science area, in which a Kiwi company is particularly strong and makes good margins.

So, redefine failure as a revenue-enhancing philosophy.

The ball’s in your court Steve.

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About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
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5 Responses to Minister Joyce has the opportunity to redefine ‘failure’

  1. Pingback: Community.Scoop » Minister Joyce has the opportunity to redefine ‘failure’

  2. Pingback: Minister Joyce has the opportunity to redefine 'failure' | sticK … | Today Headlines

  3. Doug Calhoun says:

    While he is at it, Mr Joyce should ask the MED authors of patent policy how it fits in with MSI’s innovation policy. MED see patents as an economic leak that allows (undefined) benefits to flow overseas and of no economic value to NZ. As a consequence the patent policy is to make NZ patents as difficult as possible to obtain and as easy as possible to overturn. The current patents bill before parliament would ban patents for new medical treatment and diagnostic technologies and for computer programs.

    At the centre of the MSI initiative announced in mid-November in the “Powering Innovation” report was an emphasis on increasing IP opportunities and deal flow in the high value manufacturing and services sector (HVMSS). The HVMSS technologies in the report include (you’ve guessed it) new medical treatment and diagnostic technologies and other technologies all driven by computer software.

    Patents are the currency of tech transfer and MSI are pushing for their use. Mr Joyce should be asking his MED patent policy advisors why they are so out of step his innovation advisors. In the 1970s import licensing was a core function of the Department of Trade & Industry. Under Rogernomics MT&I morphed into the Ministry of Commerce, which was then merged into the Ministry of Economic Development. But a protectionist vestigial organ still lurks within the underbelly of the MED!

    Get it sorted Minister.

  4. Pingback: Do Patents Really Have Nothing to do With Innovation? | sticK – science, technology, innovation & commercialisation KNOWLEDGE

  5. Pingback: Community Scoop » Minister Joyce has the opportunity to redefine ‘failure’

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