In my own tribute to Steve Jobs, just published on Groundviews.org, I raise some pertinent questions about nurturing discovery and innovation in Asian societies.
Here’s an excerpt:
We might admire – even revere – mavericks like Steve Jobs from afar, but few Asians have any idea where mavericks come from, or how best to deal with them. Our conformist and hierarchical societies don’t nurture mavericks. Our cultures tend to suppress odd-balls and iconoclasts. That’s probably why we don’t have enough of our own Steve Jobses, Richard Bransons and Anita Roddicks.
Mark Twin said: “The man with a new idea is a crank – until the idea succeeds”. The question is: do we Asians hush down our home-grown cranks even before they have a sporting chance? Are we culturally too biased against individualism that propels useful – and potentially transformative mavericks?
As a ‘maverick spotter’ and cheerleader for all types of innovation, I often worry that we are. I have come across bright young men and women who were ridiculed in the classroom (‘freaks!’) or scorned at home (‘losers!’) for not wanting to be doctors, engineers or lawyers.
This is the central argument in my latest op-ed, a tribute to Steve Jobs and a reflection on individualistic tech innovation in our own Asian societies.