How do political entrepreneurs learn from failure?
Among market entrepreneurs — especially in Silicon Valley and other high-tech areas — evaluating mistakes is popular as a learning tool. It is hard to find new and better ways to add value for others — the essence of entrepreneurship — without being a good learner.
Fortunately, an emerging body of resources is providing more information about failure, more stories from which to learn, and more insights on what went wrong. A recent NY Times online commentary provides a host of resources, along with this observation:
“In Silicon Valley, failure is a rite of passage,” … “If you’re not failing, you’re not considered to be innovating enough.”
The article goes on to discuss nonprofits that are trying to be more like Silicon Valley ventures — quick to learn from success and most especially from failure. In addition, the story highlights groups that speak openly about their mistakes, such as the website Admitting Failure, by Engineers Without Borders.
For another resource, check out “The Fail Show” at the Barcelona Developers Conference, a gathering that caters to new technology developers. [Update: Link is now dead. Here is another link, this one to an entire conference dedicated to failure.]
Entrepreneurs such as these learn from the relentless signals of profit and loss in market settings. Similar feedback mechanisms do not function as well in political settings.
This might explain why there aren’t as many conferences about learning from political failure. And yet, there is much to learn.
How can political entrepreneurs learn from the mistakes of the past? How can we improve the chances for reform?
(hat tip: Giancarlo Ibárgüen and Rebeca Zúñiga of Universidad Francisco Marroquín)
(see also Ed’s previous post on what we mean by “political entrepreneurs“)