there was a remarkably strong association between countries with the most advanced technology in 1500 and countries with the highest per capita income today. Europe had steel, printed books, and oceangoing ships then, while large parts of Africa did not yet have writing or the wheel.
In addition to this observation, he asks the questions why technology is so decisive? His answer is that technology is the building block - and in turn, of course, the engine of national economic growth. In other words, innovation is required in order to prosper in the future.
But he gives an example of how innovation can be killed. His example is China. In 1500, China had plow cultivation, printing, paper, books, firearms, the compass, iron, and steel, and yet failed to emulate Europe's Industrial Revolution in the centuries that followed. Scholars have argued that "autocratic Chinese emperors killed off technological progress for domestic political reasons. For example, one Ming emperor banned long-distance oceanic exploration for fear to foreign influence threatening his power, after Chinese ships had already reached East Africa in 1422". On the other hand, fragmented Europe did not have any one autocrat who could kill off technological innovation. In addition, while there was a constant threat of living in a hostile neighborhood spurred the advancement of military technology.
This all started me to think. In particular I was thinking of the edge of chaos. I have been writing about that it is the job of leaders to push organisations to the edge of chaos. Through this staff cannot just fall back on current practices, but should innovate in order to compete better. So the hostile neighborhood of 1500 should is pushing the organisation to the edge of chaos in 2000.