The Rise and Fall of the Venetian Empire should be a must-know Lesson for Innovators
In the fast paced world of technology, innovation is the name of the game. If entrepreneurs do not keep up with the innovative strategies, they would eventually end up losing their market share. A great example can be none other than the rise and fall of the Venetian Empire. To get a better idea of what happened, following is a brief background of the empire along with the lesson learned from it:
Background of the Venetian Republic
Every business would want to last for centuries just like the Venetian Empire did. Between 697 and 1797 AD, the empire flourished the most as a result of its ability to make good decisions in the field of technology along with its unconventional ways and geographic location. However, you should bear in mind that if one has to face a sudden change, it can cause the strengths to turn into weaknesses, leading to a fall of thousand years of success.
- The Military Technology
Having a military technology and central position on the main trade routes gave the Venetian Republic a strong edge. The Arsenal, a naval military weapon factory that was considered a production line method of manufacture, was a core of the empire’s naval industry. It fostered creativity and encouraged entrepreneurship and innovation in building its galleys.
- Central Geographical Location
The Venetian Republic’s location allowed it to protect itself from sea based as well as land based invaders. Its geography propelled it to develop a money lending and trading economy as there was a limited area that could support agricultural activities. Moreover, it was situated at the top of the Adriatic Sea, which enabled it to become an important trading hub, connecting both the west and east side through the Mediterranean.
- Exploitation Over Exploration – A Beginning of the End
Like a number of successful organizations, Venice also hit the level where it started focusing on exploitation instead of exploration. Entrepreneurs decided to follow a traditional route, as established practices gained popularity as compared to exploration. Traders and merchants focused on incremental innovation through efficiency and optimal use of resources. Having a focus to quickly increase their fortune, they deviated away from mapping new directions.
According to Alessandro Barbero, a professor of medieval history at the University of Eastern Piedmont, galleys were favored by the city’s navigators for a very long time. But as seafaring galleons began to surface, it allowed countries, situated at the border of the Atlantic, to create new routes for trading. These routes were not flowing through the Adriatic Sea. Venice lost its competitive edge with the introduction of ships that could survive at sea for a longer period of time i.e., months and years. This was the age of exploration, and this is when the city began to fall. So, with the invasion of Napoleon, the Venetian empire officially collapsed.
One of the most important lessons learned from the fall of the city was that stronger you believe that the future will function as the present does, the greater the likelihood of a decline in the state of affairs. If a company does not explore new directions, it will not be able to survive for a very long time. Therefore, it is important to conform to the fact that future will not be the same as present. The future is always uncertain and opened to all sorts of options. A ground breaking move by a competitor or launch of innovative technology is all it takes to cause an empire to fall. Having a sound business with high walls and neat gardens is not enough, because you might come across opportunities or threats beyond those walls.
Innovators’ Approach to Success
Innovators and entrepreneurs avoid the concept of “success as usual”. They rather invest their time and money in new business models along with exploring latest technologies. They keep a bigger perspective in mind and are cautious of being too effective or efficient, which enables them to foster unconventional mindset, problem solving skill, and an art of challenging the status quo. An innovator will not go after a fixed horizon. Instead, his focus will be on how the horizon moves as they take a step in that direction.