“Current trends toward entrepreneurship and resisting hierarchy, as well as the desire to create egalitarian work spaces, are nothing new,” according to Fred Turner, a communications professor at Stanford University. “It is a rhetoric that comes right out of the 1940s.” Turner found that the 1960’s American counterculture, as well as the modern entrepreneurship movement, “owes many of its ideals, and particularly its understanding of how media shapes people, to a generation… that really came to life during World War II.”
Both the 1960’s American counterculture and modern entrepreneurship movement developed predominantly in the greater San Francisco area, although they were also connected to New York City. What implications does the formation of the 1960’s American counterculture have for people working to develop startup ecosystems in other parts of the world?
Promote Openness, Collaboration, and Independent Thinking
The Committee for National Morale convened in New York during the 1940’s to promote an open, flexible, collaborative, and democratic personality among the American people. Commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, Bauhaus artists then created propaganda exhibitions, which people were supposed to interpret as free democratic individuals, to further the Committee’s goals. Turner links the Committee for National Morale and the Bauhaus aesthetics to the multimedia environments that would become cornerstones of the 1960’s countercultural movement.
If you want to develop a startup culture in your region, you should harness the powers of art, music, architecture, and other mediums to promote entrepreneurial values.
Since startup ecosystems resist hierarchy, startup ecosystem management can be a difficult undertaking. How do you act as a manager if the system, by nature, lacks leadership positions?
You act as a prominent network node. This can be as simple as making introductions, and it can be as complex as organizing events or speaking at ecosystem gatherings. During the 1960’s countercultural movement, which also resisted hierarchy, leaders were well-connected and vocal people, such as authors and musicians. They organized and keynoted events to make statements and build relationships. Examples include Ken Kesey, Bob Dylan, and Timothy Leary. While these people lacked formal positions of power, they spread ideas, expanded perspectives, and formed networks.
In the 1960’s counterculture, leaders introduced new forms of art, ideas, and mind expansion. Similar to rocks dropping into a pond, these intellectual stimulants created ripple effects that combined to create a counterculture.
If you want to lead a startup revolution, you should introduce innovative tools to your regional ecosystem. By introducing tools, you generate ripple effects and create credibility for yourself as a progressive originator of growth. Startup Commons’ Business Plan Tool and Ecosystem Mapping Application are two tools that are designed to solve confusing problems for entrepreneurs and service providers. Would you like to be known as the people’s savior?
Open Communication Lines
As you can tell, multimedia, art, and communications played significant roles in cultivating the 1960’s countercultural movement. In fact, communications may well be the backbone of all revolutions. Technology has given birth to new forms of communication that, when applied to startup ecosystems, will lead to an economic development digital transformation.
Startup ecosystems are decentralized and dynamic, so they require different policy approaches than traditional economic development. Although governments do not typically promote countercultural revolutions, enabling startup revolutions are often in smart governments’ best interests because they can lead to digitized economic development and data-driven innovation. How can governments help promote entrepreneurship and startup culture?
One small step that smart governments and their partners can take is opening communication lines for ecosystem actors. By providing proper digital infrastructure, governments and their partners have the ability to rapidly accelerate cultural change. This can be accomplished by introducing Startup Commons’ Startup Ecosystem Portal to your ecosystem.
Now, apply what you have learned, engineer a countercultural movement, and lead your region's startup revolution!
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