We need Regional and Regeneration policy that creates Outliers

I’ve just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success – see you tube video below and Amazon video here which is a bit better.

And it’s great. In recent years, American academics seem to have discovered the knack of turning the vast quantities of usually dull academic papers they churn out into personal stories that the rest of us will enjoy reading. This book is no exception.  Gladwell targets the main myth of success – that people succeed alone – and totally dismembers it. No one ever succeeds alone. Amongst the many reasons why people succeed, lots of chance, family relatives and involuntary good timing tends to come a lot into it. And then of course the flipside to this work is to look at some causes for why people fail; cultural legacy and power distance to name but two. Once you accept all of that, here’s a passage that sums up what you should then do about it;

To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success

All that being so, writing in the Yorkshire Post yesterday, I lamented the failure of regional policy to do what it says on the tin and how it has succumbed to the siren calls for supporting fashionable industries and moving work to the workers rather than the much cheaper and more effective workers to the work. Regional policy could be about enabling opportunities for Outliers rather than choosing White Elephants – exhibit A of which has to be this semiconductor factory in Scotland.