Danish businesses shouldn’t be looking to the States for role models

Denmark was a hot topic in the US primary elections earlier this year. In passing it was mentioned as a place Donald Trump would be likely to nuke. Bernie Sanders also showered it with attention, proclaiming it as a society Americans should aspire to. And as always Fox News saw it all quite differently. No surprise there.

But this is a rare occasion. On the other end of it Danish businesses are looking to a place like Silicon Valley for inspiration all year round. And just like Bernie Sanders example of Denmark has been criticised, perhaps Danish businesses should ask themselves if it really makes sense to be looking for role models in businesses that function under such vastly different social circumstances?

All things considered, Fox News journalist and former beauty queen Trish Regan is right in one thing: There are vast differences between U.S.A and a country like Denmark where the tax on cars really is a staggering 180 percent.

The Silicon Valley of India

Typing Silicon Valley into Google gives you the option of Silicon Valley of India. India already has Bollywood, so why not?

The problem is that the something of something is not really the anything. Not anything originally anyway. China’s or for that matter India’s economy wouldn’t be where they are today if the respective businesses had simply copied American businesses.

It’s hard to imagine China promoting themselves as the U.S.A of Asia.

A lot of people are aware of this. At least in India. They know it’s important not to pour your entire identity into a nickname and try to copy something happening on the other side of the world. As a co-founder of an Indian startup in the so called Silicon Valley of India (Bangalore) expresses here:

“Indian investors need to think differently and I have myself been looking to invest in companies that address genuine India-specific problems, using creative and scalable approaches”

I like really like this quote. It expresses the undeniable link between being creative and ensuring you are actually headed in the direction of your own market.

South of the border — to Germany

It makes much more sense for Danish companies to be looking south of the border and into Germany. Germany has a society with many similarities to the Danish, and thus their innovation culture makes for an example which is easier to actually implement for Danish businesses.

The same could be said of our other neighbours Sweden and Norway, but I get it that a trip to the US is more attractive and spring does indeed arrive earlier in Silicon Valley.

The American business culture is geared toward radical steps forward, but these steps also means abandoning time proven practices. Whereas the German innovation culture is one of re-invention and tiny tweaks forward, making it more compliant with a Danish innovation culture which from an American vantage point could be criticised for being overly cautious and as a result also slower.

It is not always easy figuring out your role models, but one thing is sure:

Innovation does in fact not happen in a bubble. At least not if you are standing inside that bubble all by yourself.

This is also the essential notion behind the J. Boye network.

Where should you be looking?