Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Promises Kept - Why Innovation works

I read the recent article in Business Week - The Failed Promise of Innovation - with a measure of expectation and regret. Here's a magazine that has as one of its leading lights Bruce Nussbaum, who is constantly writing about innovation and hosting innovation panels and events, yet either honestly believes that innovation has "failed" to meet its promises or is simply waving the flag at the bull. Of course Nussbaum wrote that innovation was "dead" at the end of 2008.

The article which suggests that innovation has failed leads in with the following paragraph:

But there's growing evidence that the innovation shortfall of the past decade is not only real but may also have contributed to today's financial crisis. Think back to 1998, the early days of the dot-com bubble. At the time, the news was filled with reports of startling breakthroughs in science and medicine, from new cancer treatments and gene therapies that promised to cure intractable diseases to high-speed satellite Internet, cars powered by fuel cells, micromachines on chips, and even cloning. These technologies seemed to be commercializing at "Internet speed," creating companies and drawing in enormous investments from profit-seeking venture capitalists—and ordinarily cautious corporate giants. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan summed it up in a 2000 speech: "We appear to be in the midst of a period of rapid innovation that is bringing with it substantial and lasting benefits to our economy."

If you read the above carefully you'll see that innovation has failed in the eyes of this author because, for all intents and purposes, we don't have the jet backpack that we were promised. If we were promised a gadget or gizmo by the folks in Disney's Tomorrowland that we don't yet have, well, innovation has failed.

Perhaps a more enlightened and reasonable argument is that innovation happened, just not where we expected it. A tremendous amount of innovation happened in financial services - some of it bad, yes, but some of it will prove out to be great. Let's look at Prosper or other micro-lending sites for example. A tremendous amount of innovation happened in personal communications - the iPhone and other cell phones are merging the telephonic needs with computing needs and other needs.

Let's look back at that quote again and consider it from a different angle. Why don't we have cars that run on fuel cells? Well, we can, it's just that the conditions haven't matured for fuel cells to be the dominant mode of propulsion. Gasoline and diesel engines, along with hybrids are still more efficient than fuel cells. An innovation or great idea holds promise, but it must succeed in the marketplace. Fuel cells hold great hope, and will become a significant source of propulsion when gasoline remains above four dollars a gallon or when Congress decides to mandate their use. Does this mean that innovation "failed"? No, just that some of these concepts identified above were talked about years ahead of their time. Micromachines and MEMS provide another great example.

Many projectors that we use every day or televisions we have at home are powered by a MEMs device - the Digital Light Processor from Texas Instruments. There are MEMs devices out in the world today, we are just beginning to see them enter the market. While the idea was great, developing the manufacturing capability to produce them took - wait for it - innovation in manufacturing techniques. Just because we can envision a MEMs device doesn't mean that we had the capability to produce them with very low error rates at volume.

Innovation isn't dead, and it hasn't failed to meet unreasonable expectations or promises. Instead of creating these false peaks and unrealistic expectations about innovation, perhaps we should simply create the environment where innovation can thrive and get out of the way. Some of the biggest impediments to innovation aren't technological or even monetary, they are cultural and bureaucratic. The next article written about this will certainly suggest that since innovation has "failed" in the private sector, perhaps the Federal Government should create specific programs to "manage" and fund innovation in specific segments, which will lead us directly to where Japan was in the 1980s with MITI, a failed corporatist policy.

Innovation is supposed to fail, frequently and with consequences. Taking risks means that some of the ideas HAVE to fail for others to succeed. Edison didn't create the best, most effective lightbulb on his first try - he failed repeatedly and what we see today is only the success based on a tremendous number of attempts.

If we look carefully, innovation has happened all around us, and we'd be foolish to suggest that innovation has "failed". If it didn't happen in the markets we'd hoped, or in the timeframes we'd hoped, then perhaps the market demand guided innovation to happen in the places where consumers demanded it most.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:14 AM


Anonymous yeast infection in men said...

Fairly great write-up. I simply Digging your web site and desired to say that I’ve actually enjoyed reading your blogpost. Any way I’ll be signing as much as your feed and I feel you’ll put up as soon as more within the close to future.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous constipation in children said...

Pleasantly, the posting is really the fresh area of interest for this registry associated issue. I harmonize along with your conclusions and can eagerly sit up for your incoming updates. Simply say provides thanks will not sufficient, in your lucidity in your posting. I’ll immediately seize your rss feed to maintain abreast of all updates.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous yeast infection symptoms said...

Thanks a lot for show relatively useful informations. Your website is great.I'm impressed by the data that you've got on this blog. It exhibits how very effectively you notice this subject. Bookmarked this course of net page, will arrive back again for lots more. You, my buddy, amazing! I discovered simply the information I beforehand looked for in every single place and just could not come across. What a superb web site. Just like this web site your website is one in every of my new favorite.I reminiscent of this data proven and it has given me some type of motivation to have accomplishment for some cause, so preserve up the beneficial work!

6:38 PM  
Anonymous how do you get genital warts said...

Hi admin – That is surely the wonderful searching for blog I've seen. It had been completely easy to grasp and it had been simple to look with the knowledge which i wanted. Wonderful internet design and helpful content material materials!

6:38 PM  
Anonymous head lice home remedy said...

As looking out for fairly a while for locating a useful articles or blog posts just about this unique problem . Researching in Google I finally discovered this weblog post. Reading this So i am happy to say that I’ve obtained an excellent impression I got here across no matter I wanted. I most definitely will remember to bear in mind this blog and look constantly.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous stop snoring mouth piece said...

Can I simply communicate what a elimination to locate superstar who actually is aware of what theyre talking concerning on the web. You completely recognize find out how to carry an matter to gentle and build it significant. Extra individuals must read this plus understand this side of the narrative. I cant consider youre not more widespread because you positively have the gift.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous stop excessive sweating said...

Congratulations for the excellent blog posting! I discovered your submit truly attention-grabbing, I feel you’re a clever writer. I add on your weblog to my bookmarks and will return inside the lengthy term. I need to inspire you to continue that marvelous operate, have a good day!

6:39 PM  
Anonymous constipation in baby said...

I havent any phrase to understand this post.....Actually i'm impressed from this post....the person who create this publish it was an ideal human..thanks for shared this with us.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous how to lose cellulite said...

Hi Webmaster, commenters and all people else !!! The blog was completely fantastic! Numerous nice information and inspiration, both of which all of us need!Maintain ‘em coming… you all do such an excellent job at such Ideas… can’t tell you how much I, for one respect all you do!

6:39 PM  
Anonymous cholesterol lowering foods said...

Great points…I might note that as someone who really doesn’t comment to blogs much (in truth, this may be my first post), I don’t think the time period “lurker” could be very flattering to a non-posting reader. It’s not your fault at all, but maybe the blogosphere might provide you with a greater, non-creepy title for the ninety% of us that take pleasure in studying the posts.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous how do you stop snoring said...

I’ve been surfing on-line far more than three hours today, nevertheless I don’t ever discovered any appealing posting like your site. It’s pretty worth ample for me. In my view, if most of site house owners and people produced great content materials as you do, the net will probably be much way more useful than ever before.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous get rid of genital warts said...

I would like to thanks for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you sooner or later as well. Actually your creative writing talents has impressed me to start out my own BlogEngine weblog now. Actually the running a blog is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a positive example of it.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous cellulite exercises said...

Pleasantly, the posting is actually the fresh niche for this registry related issue. I harmonize along with your conclusions and will eagerly sit up for your incoming updates. Simply say provides thanks will not sufficient, in your lucidity in your posting. I’ll immediately grab your rss feed to keep abreast of all updates.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous cellulite reduction said...

Hey - nice blog, simply trying round some blogs, appears a reasonably nice platform you're using. I’m currently using WordPress for a couple of of my sites but trying to change certainly one of them over to a platform much like yours as a trial run. Anything specifically you would suggest about it?

6:41 PM  
Anonymous acid reflux natural remedy said...

I’ve been browsing on-line much more than three hours these days, however I don’t ever found any interesting posting like your site. It’s fairly worth adequate for me. In my opinion, if most of web site homeowners and people produced great content material materials as you do, the net can be much way more helpful than ever before.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous remove cellulite said...

Hi there, my group is simply establishing our first website, searching and figuring out what's needed. This weblog stuck out right away. I’m fired up about this, and adore the design of your site. Are you able to let me know what “theme” it is?

6:41 PM  
Anonymous constipation home remedies said...

I like your format, the truth that your webpage is definitely a tad bit unique makes it so helpful, I get utterly fed up of viewing the identical stuff just about all of the time. I’ve I simply stumbled on this website by you Thanks a lot.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous how to stimulate hair growth said...

Lovely just what I was searching for.Thanks to the author for taking his clock time on this one.

4:39 AM  
Blogger felicity said...

It's so great to find a blog with original thoughts like this.
home treatments for hemorrhoids

8:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home