Do We Really Need To Fail?


Yesterday, I heard a report on NPR about the resource management department in North West Washington, in response to diminished funding – is certifying private boats for emergency duty in clean up, security, and rescue.  This is logical because nobody knows and understands the waters of Northern Puget Sound and The Strait of Juan De Fuca than the local tribes and others who ply those waters daily.

Today, I heard another report on NPR about how the City of Houston has gained far more from the demise of Enron than their existence.  Enron would recruit the top intellect in the country, move them to Houston and reward them for creativity and hard work.  The collapse of Enron released 4000 hugely talented people to the Houston Economy where many have started new businesses with remarkable success.

Vicious Circle or Virtuous circle:

I will not pass judgment beyond what these reports stated, except that there is something very valid about the “Knowledge Inventory” that exists in a community and their specific location.  The Jane Jacobs externality proposes that endowment of creative and educated people drives economic growth in a community by attracting investment and development, which attracts more smart people, etc.

Vicious Galaxies or Virtuous Galaxies

As the NPR reports suggest, the type of investment and development is dependent on the quality and quantity of knowledge assets that exist in a particular location.  Now, let’s extrapolate that to include all disciplines and talents of knowledge that exist in all communities and we encounter a stark reality that there is no knowledge inventory from which to build – except in the response to a failure such as the corrosion of government spending or in the wake of corruption and associated corporate collapse.

Yes, it is often said that adversity brings out the best in people, but is that really necessary?  Do we really need for the whole rig to collapse before we emerge from the ashes? 

We need to build the knowledge inventory today.  People need to know what people know – that is where the truth lives.   We need to know what can be built from the parts that we have in the bin.  We don’t want to try to build something from the wrong parts any more than we want to misallocate the right parts to build the wrong things.  In any industry in the world, none of these situations would pass the stink test, yet this is the state of our communities today.  We don’t even know that we don’t know what we know.  Seriously, is anyone else wondering about these things?

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