Seminar "Where do we go from here?":  Is the party over, or can we build an Estonian success model? 12.11.2009


On November 12, 2009, Domus Dorpatensis hosted the third even of a nine part series about Estonia, its transition and „what’s next”. Former EuroCollege Director, Michael Gallagher led the discussion. Here is a brief summary.


We are in the midst of a global recession that was sparked by a financial crash in New York a little more than a year ago. This is a serious event, but temporary. At the same time, the recession is likely to have mid term and possibly long term consequences that will affect Estonia’s economic growth. The main „growth engines” that we have relied upon (finance, real estate, and construction) are not likely to give us high growth again for the foreseeable future. So is the party over? Should we accept that we will not catch up to western European living standards?


We should, unless we find ways to develop new growth engines. What are those? How do we do that? These are difficult questions. To find the answers we need to take a closer look at what makes economic growth possible. The best answer is a highly innovative business culture. This is a resource, or perhaps we could call it a capacity that may build up or not, depending on a number of factors. It is also something that, unfortunately, we have not yet had the time to build up in Estonia. We need to do it now. This means moving from being „connected” to global markets, to „leading the connections”. We have a new resource that can and should help us learn how to do this. It is the huge amount of freewheeling discussion and learning that one can find on the web about how this process works. This resource didn’t exist 20 years ago nor did the institutionalized shared learning (for example from incubators, and so on).


So, can we identify some elements of an „innovative business culture”? The global technology sector has provided us with an excellent model to understand how this might work. The best practitioners in the field see this as building an „ecology” that speeds up „innovation cycles” (as institutional learning).


To get a better sense of this, Mr. Gallagher addressed the following questions


  1. What is kluge? (A word used by Jeff Bezos in a video presented to the group)
  1. What is a cycle of innovation? (Starting from overcoming kluge by institutional learning)
  1. Why can’t we see the mess we are in? (Or why can’t we see processes and connections)
  1. Why don’t tasks add up to process? (To get a sense of the importance of connection)
  1. Is there such a thing as a success process? (as discussed by Richard St. John)
  1. Why is Twitter so popular? (as a tool to build information flow)
  1. Is innovation just a game? (How gaming is changing the way we innovate)
  1. If innovation is a game, how do we play? (As understood by Randy Pausch et al)