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Innovation another casualty of terrorism

A News.com reader writes that as we try to refocus our attention on work, we must reassess our chances for entrepreneurial success, a task made difficult by the heightened level of uncertainty.


Innovation another casualty of terrorism

In response to the Sept. 29 column by Robert van Goeben, "When tech concerns pale in comparison":

I am the founder of a pre-seed venture that plans to use technology to "change the world" for the better. My company's goals, which once inflamed such passions among my colleagues and I, now seem relatively mundane compared to the world's new concerns after Sept. 11. Mr. von Goeben has expressed very well the new perspective we all must have in response to the tragic events of the recent past and the altered sets of priorities and opportunities we now face.

Now, as we try to refocus our attention on our work, we must reassess our chances for entrepreneurial success, a task made exceedingly difficult by the heightened level of uncertainty. In this new era, business decisions probably will be influenced much more by the desire of individuals and organizations to avoid risk rather than to exploit opportunities for gain. While this state of affairs existed before Sept. 11, due to the slowing economy, risk avoidance will now gain importance by an order of magnitude.

While history shows that individuals, organizations and countries are, in the long term, resilient, the short-term focus entrepreneurs need to move their visions from milestone to milestone every 90 days conflicts with the need to set aside time, effort and other resources to absorb the shocks of the present situation and begin the process of healing and rebuilding. How can we pitch our visions of a better future when everyone we address is preoccupied with the practical and emotional distractions of understanding and responding to the new realities?

I am moving ahead with my plans, yet it is impossible to do so without a more subdued sense of purpose. Life will go on, business will eventually resume at full throttle, and we will all reach a point that we will call "normalcy," though it will be a different, more cautious and more restrictive environment. It will take time to reach this point, and time is something that many entrepreneurs have little of, as they operate on shoestring budgets and optimism. Many of us will fail in our current endeavors where we might have succeeded absent the recent terrorist attacks. Innovation is another subtle but devastating casualty of terrorism.

Jeff Glass
Sausalito, Calif.