Why do I say that? Well, there are several factors to consider:
1. Many firms have spent the last five to ten years getting their execution processes just right. They've been through Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. They've improved reporting processes because of Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. What's happened is that there's been a real focus on improving the executional processes in many businesses, so they can now perform at a higher level.
2. They've outsourced many of the functions that they don't do well or can't do cost effectively. This means that they've optimized their processes and have begun to focus on the things they believe they can do well, and shifted the processes or functions that they could not do as well to other shores or other businesses.
3. Globalization has increased the competitive pressure. In the last 10 years or so, the increase in global competition, with the rise of China and India and the freeing up of the Eastern Europeans has created more consumers and more producers. I remember less than 10 years ago people were worried about our US jobs going "south" to Mexico. How many times do you hear that fear today? As competition increases, our firms have to focus on what they do well to continue to differentiate
These factors and the recognition that our economy is a knowledge based economy, lead me to believe that many of the key requirements for success in innovation are out there. We have the ability to innovate, the national will and history as an entrepreneurial society of risk takers, and we have many businesses that have optimized their processes, which should mean they can bring new ideas and products to market more quickly. The growth in competition from overseas will increasingly lead our firms to focus on new product development as a differentiator.
Factors like Six Sigma, lean, outsourcing, right sizing and global competitive pressure may set the stage and converge to focus our attention even more closely on innovation, and lay the groundwork for even better outcomes.