I’m excited for the prospect of the Third Wave when the brilliant minds of the technology world come together with entrenched industries to improve them for consumers, stakeholders and the environment. And I agree that the American government is going to have to move fast if we don’t want to be disrupted by other competing economies.
I would, however, add an additional area of focus to the six that you describe — and that is the right support, mentoring and training for start up entrepreneurs to turn their start ups into successful sustaining businesses. I worry that the last 10 to 15 years have given birth to a mentality that obsesses on and glamorizes “start up” culture, and fails to put the same attention on the far more important — and less sexy — phase of healthily growing a business when it has moved past its initial “high growth” stage.
The fact is many of the “disruptive” founders of the Uber era have succeeded by playing by a different set of rules — not being bound to the same regulatory environments as entrenched competitors. One could argue that their early successes of breaking through and achieving high growth have favored a set of skills totally different to those needed to sustainably grow a more mature business in an entrenched industry. Yes, we need to constantly review and update those regulatory rules to keep up with our changing society and environment, but there will always be constraints. And the bigger you get, the more profound they become.
What are we doing to systemically develop and foster the skills needed to lead a more mature and complex omni-channel business? We certainly don’t want to become known for being the country with all the bright ideas that other countries “copycat” and operate more effectively.
According to Wharton Professor Adam Grant, first mover advantage is actually a myth, with studies showing that 47% of first mover companies fail in their early years compared to 8% of so called “improver” companies.
Today’s media shines a glittering, admiring light on the great skills it takes to successfully birth a powerful new idea. This has been the era of the “serial entrepreneur” starting company after company, moving on once a company passes through its high growth phase. But what if the mentality that has served the First and Second waves so well isn’t enough to help us win in the Third wave? When patience, resilience and more expansive leadership are required?