A feint heart never won fair maiden. I don’t doubt it. It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. The world is full of such homilies.
It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. That is easier said than done. Trying is not without risk and risk is not something we are always very good at managing, yet if we want to grow the digital sector in the North East we need to think about our approach. No business is without risk and so we need to encourage an environment which encourages risk yet discourages recklessness. There is a big difference.
We need a support environment that is receptive to new ideas, that helps them grow yet acknowledges that not all ideas will come to fruition. We need an environment where failure is recognised as part of the journey, where people are supported to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and start all over again.
Perhaps this is where we struggle. The North East has a relatively high preponderance of public sector employees. This is a difficult figure to interpret. It would seem that public sector jobs are spread across the country relatively evenly when compared to population numbers yet private sector jobs are skewed more heavily towards the south and east. Putting that aside, only Northern Ireland and Wales come above the North East at about 24% in terms of the proportion of public sector jobs.
Now where am I going with this? My thinking is that employees in public jobs are encouraged to be risk averse, quite rightly at times as it is public money that they are dealing with, whereas those in the private jobs are more attuned to the cycles of growth and decline, risk and reward. So in order to encourage a more entrepreneurial culture in the region we will need to move more people from the risk averse side of the equation to the risk accepting.
All of us in the public sector will need to consider how we can contribute. Perhaps we can encourage more failure within those organisations we run and work more closely to support the fledgling companies get off the ground.
As an aside the number of employees in the public sector is at the lowest it has been since measurements were started in 1999.