Does this explain it all?

Puerto Rico suffers from a fixed mind setA fascinating article in the New York Post, proposes the following: Those who believe they were born with all the smarts and gifts they’re ever going to have approach life with a “fixed mind-set.” Those who believe that their own abilities can expand over time, however, live with a “growth mind-set.”

Your like so what? Well I'll tell you so what! Have you every thought that you're perfectly content with the job you have? No, well have you met someone who was? Have you ever concluded, with a sigh of relief, "I'm glad I don't have to study anymore." What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you encounter a new challenge, a new skill that you need, or a task that you've never done? If it's oh I don't know. It's not my job, it's outside of my training, or I don't think I can do it because I've never done it before, then you might have a fixed mind set. Not you, fine! What about your peers or your subordinates? Sorry boss, I can't do that with out going to training.

The Times article reveals that after three decades of painstaking research, the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck believes that: "Society is obsessed with the idea of talent and genius and people who are ‘naturals’ with innate ability. (Or had the good fortunate to be born with a certain last name)” Oh yeah, that sounds nothing like most of the people I come into contact with. Oh you haven't worked in the pharmaceutical industry, then you clearly can't work on our computer systems. Oh sorry no banking experience, nope, no way you can understand our computer systems. Yeah I guess that whole Masters in Computer Science doesn't provide me any basis on how to learn new computer systems.

Dweck continues: "People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them." Now that clearly is NOTHING like most people here. The typical Puerto Rican or Puerto Rican company is so completely immobilized at the prospect of making a mistake or not looking smart, that if a task, idea, or opportunity comes along that is outside of their comfort zone, it must simply be ignored.

Finally Dweck concludes that: "People with a growth mind-set tend to demonstrate the kind of perseverance and resilience required to convert life’s setbacks into future successes. That ability to learn from experience was cited as the No. 1 ingredient for creative achievement in a poll of 143 creativity researchers cited in “Handbook of Creativity” in 1999.

Conclusion: Well, it explains a lot!


In a culture where image is everything and vanity is the number one motivator, we let our obsession with looking smart and avoiding mistakes dominate our lives. When considering Dweck's research it is now clear that these beliefs must be a major contributing factor to the lack of [innovation, research, invention, market growth, market creation, and global focus] here on the island. In addition, it explains why, when it comes to technology, there is a herd mentality of follow the leader. Since technology is complex, ever-changing, and hard to understand, most managers (leaders) refuse to make bold decisions that place the necessary importance and risk on technology. The exact strategy that all companies need to stay competitive. With a lifestyle mentality, business owners are content to have risen to as high as they believe their abilities can take them (Peter Principle), so they become fearful of losing what they have. They become risk-averse, exactly as identified in the classic business article 'Why good companies fail' .

In addition, for the same reasons, it prevents nearly all of our companies from researching and developing new products. It also blocks nearly all of our "entrepreneurs" so that they conclude that since company 'x' is successful, then that must be a good idea for a business. Therefore they conclude that it is a good idea to start a business to offer almost exactly what company 'x' provides. Listen people: Puerto Rico doesn't need any more online classified ad sites. I'm not saying give-up and let ClasificadosOnline.com 'own' the market. I'm saying unless you're bringing something new to the game that can disrupt their guerilla marketing strangehold on the market, don't waste your time. They have too much of a head-start for anyone to displace them with the exact same product and marketing strategy.

In a previous life I worked for a large wireless telecommunications company. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars launching a web-based system to sell cellular telephones. Before we launched the project I asked the director in charge of the project, "How many phones do you think we'll sell from the website?" His answer: zero. So I asked, "Why are we spending the money then?" His answer: because our competitor has a web site to sell telephones. While this director was not stupid his decisions clearly illustrate a fixed mind set. Instead of changing the game, bringing something new to the market, all he could come up with is that's what my competitor did, so I have to as well, EVEN THOUGH HE BELIEVED IT WOULD BE A COMPLETE FAILURE. Is it any wonder our economy sucks so badly?

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