If you are looking for tips on how best to innovate, don’t look to the movies, says Eric Ries, entrepreneur and author of “The Lean Startup.”
“There’s this real myth out there,” Ries said during an interview with the Post’s Michelle Williams, that “it’ll work out just like it did in the movies.” Ries who based his entrepreneurial pursuits, in the beginning, on movies and magazines, said the path is more complicated than the three-step montage featured in movies like “The Social Network.”
That’s not the only myth around entrepreneurship and innovation. “Rich people aren’t job creators. Entrepreneurs are job creators,” he said, discussing the policies necessary to foster innovative entrepreneurs.
“If you can make it easier for people to take a risk, reduce the consequences of failure, that’s a really important foundation for entrepreneurship,” he said.
Failure could not be more important, argues Ries, even as schools fail to deliver this important lesson to America's students.
“Our educational system is not preparing people for the 21st Century,” Ries said. “Failure is an essential part of entrepreneurship.
“If you work hard, you can get an ‘A’ pretty much guaranteed,” he said, “but in entrepreneurship, that’s not how it works.” This disparity between the rejection of failure by schools and the acceptance of failure by entrepreneurs and innovators can best be seen in the scientific research community, where failure is seen as an opportunity to learn.
“What we want to say is failure is a jumping off point for a process of discvoery to find out what works, and there are no entrepreneurs who have had success without failure,” he said.
The existing 20th century manufacturing mindset that drives the current educational model needs to change, much like the hallmark of modern industry, the automobile industry, needs to reshape its mindset as well. “I will be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about the auto industry,” Ries said, but the need for experimentation is universal for emergent or struggling, existing companies. “I bet the people who are in the auto industry right now have more than 10,000 good ideas about what might work and what we need to do is not come up with more good ideas. We need to go and test as many of those good ideas as possible," he said.
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