Expand Our Notion of Success from Wealth Creation to Value Creation


We have too narrow a view of success in the tech community, fueled by investors wanting big returns, business schools reinforcing these values, and universities trying to maximize financial returns on their research.

Young people see this. Many children of immigrants want to help their parents’ homelands. Many young people want to build a more equitable society. Many worry about declining health among low-income people, ravaging the environment, and diminished opportunities among people of color.

Technology innovations can yield scalable solutions to most of these issues, but the focus of our approach to developing and deploying new technology is wealth creation when it should be value creation.

The cell phone can be used to monitor elections in developing countries, personalized healthcare can help people monitor and manage their health (and not just cardiovascular patients), online learning can enable people to drill and repeat until they get it right, or move ahead quickly if they master a concept or solve a problem.

We fail to couple the humanistic and social applications of technology in ways that attract more than budding gee whiz scientists and get-rich investors.

[Editor’s note: To tap the wisdom of our distinguished group of Xconomists, we asked a few of them to answer this question heading into 2015: “How should the innovation community solve its gender and diversity problems?” You can see other questions and answers here.]

Mary Lindenstein Walshok is co-author with Abraham J. Shragge of "Invention & Re-Invention: The Evolution of San Diego’s Innovation Economy." She serves as UC San Diego’s associate vice chancellor of public programs, dean of UC San Diego Extension and is an adjunct professor of sociology. Follow @

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One response to “Expand Our Notion of Success from Wealth Creation to Value Creation”

  1. Brendan says:

    This reminds me of an article from last year when Elon Musk announced the Hyperloop: http://jerzygangi.com/why-silicon-valley-funds-instagrams-not-hyperloops/