EDITOR’S LETTER : Number 8 wired

So – did an accident of geography make Kiwis inventive, innovative problem-solvers, able to take piece of number eight wire and turn it into high-tech electric fence?
Or are we dreamers to think that we can come up with world-beating ideas from these remote and sparsely populated islands at the bottom of the world? Are we special? Or have we just been lucky so far?
I like Bob van de Kuilen’s suggestion in this magazine in June 2008 (“Kiwi Competitiveness in the Global Economy”) that Bert Munro might have had the world’s fastest Indian, but he certainly didn’t have the world’s best team preparing him for his speed record – he failed to get permit to race his motorbike on the salt flats and very nearly had to come home without racing at all.
Perhaps we are nation of Bert Munros, appearing without warning in foreign countries with great idea, bright smile and our famous Kiwi optimism. She’ll be right. Katherine Corich, founder of international consultancy Sysdoc, who appears in our cover story certainly thinks so. She told me earlier this year: “It’s not enough to go in and say we’re new, we’re innovative, we’re keen, you should love us, because that doesn’t have context in the problems of the host nation.” She says companies need to integrate within the social context of the country, find out their issues and prove the new service or new technology will be of relevance to them.
IBM New Zealand’s managing director Jennifer Moxon, who appears on our cover this month says: “We will need to address some systemic issues if we are to maintain our reputation as an innovator – and keep enjoying the economic and social benefits that result.”
We may have the great ideas, but do we have the drive to achieve the successes of bigger and more prosperous nations? And, argues (asks?) American Roy Stager-Jacques, do we want the US lifestyle as our reward for changing our mindset from being one of the world’s little battlers to becoming one of ambition, long hours and exhausting schedules?
Finally, do we have the infrastructure to achieve at world-class level? Do we have the road and rail links ready to deliver our goods? Do we arrive overseas prepared and ready to sell?
If we don’t, our cover story suggests, we may just be kidding ourselves. It will take more than piece of number eight wire to take on the world.

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