On March 31, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech at the National Cathedral, titled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” He discussed a triple revolution that was taking place, consisting of three factors: technology, weaponry, and human rights. Does that sound familiar to our present situation?
Martin Luther King Jr.’s wisdom has valuable implications for today’s entrepreneurs and policy makers. Here are four key takeaways for entrepreneurship ecosystem developers from “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.”
Ethics need to keep pace with technological changes.
“Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood.” This statement from King’s speech resonates deeper in the modern era than it did in 1968. Internet, smart phones, and social media now link people around the world with constant communication. Furthermore, smart cities and govtech solutions are rapidly bringing regulators into the digital future. However, our ethics still need to keep pace with our increasing digital connectedness.
With so much digital information available, entrepreneurs and policy makers must make decisions about who controls and maintains responsibility for data. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an effort to give citizens control of their personal data. The Startup Commons team is happy to advise on GDPR compliance, and our Digital Ecosystem Applications are designed to give users control of their data, no matter where they are in the world.
Another challenge presented by technological change is intellectual property ownership. As startups increasingly drive innovation, traditional technology transfer models are becoming cumbersome and outdated. Startup Commons offers Open IPR consulting for universities and research institutions so that they can more effectively contribute to innovation.
Leaders create consensus.
"Sir, I’m sorry you don’t know me. I’m not a consensus leader,” King once told a newsman. He claimed in his speech that “ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” If you are leading an entrepreneurship ecosystem, you will need to balance several competing viewpoints and opinions. Sometimes you will feel the need to take unpopular positions, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s stance against the war in Vietnam.
What do you do if you are a politician and the majority of your constituents fear losing their jobs to immigrants? Do you push for stricter immigration policy? What if your constituents do not understand that high-skilled immigrants actually create, rather than remove, jobs in your region’s economy? When you take a position on an important issue, it is sometimes best to create, rather than respond to, consensus.
Gain insight from interconnectedness.
During his speech, King made the point that “we are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Similar to our broader society, entrepreneurship ecosystems are inescapable networks of mutuality. They rely on the contributions of multiple players, ranging from startup employees to political leaders.
How do ecosystem developers make sense of these interconnected relationships? Startup Commons’ Digital Ecosystem Applications illustrate the interconnectedness of entrepreneurship ecosystems, enabling ecosystem developers to visualize and benchmark ecosystem activity. For example, our Ecosystem Mapping Application enables entrepreneurs and policy makers to see how support providers serve a startup’s needs at various phases of the startup’s development. By mapping out support-provider roles, we help entrepreneurs and grant makers navigate an otherwise complex, interconnected network.
The time to act is now.
Since “time is neutral,” King made the point that things do not automatically improve with time. He called on his audience to “realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” King’s wisdom holds true for economic development.
If you want to build an entrepreneurship ecosystem, then you should start now. Reach out to Startup Commons!
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