It’s Never Too Late To Innovate
A couple of weeks ago (Nov. 23, 2009) Newsweek had Sara Palin on the cover in gym shorts. I guess they figured that would get a wider audience. What was also quite interesting in that issue was an article on Business Innovation by Daniel McGinn. One of the lingering concerns and a serious issue for the last 2 decades (maybe 3) is how fast we might be losing ground in the battle for innovation, inventiveness, and the requisite skills that are likely to keep us there, especially math and science.
Two of the more interesting survey findings included:
While most Americans (73%) believe the U.S. is technologically innovative, more Chinese do (82%) and a significant majority of Chinese believe we are staying ahead of China when it comes to innovation as opposed to less than a majority of Americans (41%).
In addition, many Americans (52%) blame poor math and science education as the reason for our falling behind, while more Chinese than Americans (45% to 18%) believe that creative problem solving is more important to innovation.
Perhaps a majority of Chinese value creative problem solving and Americans math and science since these are each areas of complimentary necessities to create, innovate and invent. And of course it’s something that each of these societies wants more of.
Originally being schooled as a mathematician and engineer, and having worked at one of the great think tanks – Bell Laboratories – it always seemed to me that balance would ultimately prevail over one or another extreme. However, over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that it is actually more important to be extremely great at both – not necessarily the same individual of course – and then build an organization through people that have a balance, using them to connect innovation to the real world, by continuously collecting business requirements, and creatively marketing products so that the economic engine behind the innovation remains continuously fueled.
One thing I’m sure of is that seed and venture capital are key to priming this engine and the world’s economy is quite dependent on our business risk takers.