Wednesday, January 25, 2012

American innovation

Innovation is a hot topic lately, I hear about it at my job and in the collective consciousness of the business world quite frequently. Innovation for new products, new work methods, new infrastructure … the list goes on. With innovation comes the need for change, a concept championed by some and fretted by many, yet necessary. And at the root of innovation is creativity, which seems in recent decades not to receive the respect it deserves in American business.

As stated in the article “Innovation and Growth ‘Inextricably Linked,’ GE’s New Global Innovation Barometer Finds,” the US is perceived “as the country with the best reputation for innovation.” There is no doubt that the US is where it is today because of its innovative history. Think about the many inventions we now take for granted – automobiles, computers, light bulbs, semi-conductors – all products of American inventiveness, and great feats of innovation that have propelled this country to the global economic forefront throughout its relatively short history.

With the outsourcing of manufacturing to Asia and automation of jobs once requiring mathematical skills over the past few decades, America now finds itself in a rut. Nine or ten percent unemployment as blue collar jobs are shipped overseas and a lack of a new industry to compensate for these losses – it is time for the country to embrace and find opportunity in its innovative spirit as a means to turn this crisis around.

Innovation, creativity, and inventiveness cannot be automated or outsourced. They are part of the American fabric, the source of our former industrious heyday. As the findings suggest in the Innovation Barometer study, the other developed and emerging nations recognize this to varying degrees and are investing in innovation with the intent to drive their economies forward. In order for the US to stay ahead of the curve, it needs to invest in its intrinsic talent pool, despite the slow economy and lack of funding. It can start with the education system, placing a new emphasis on the arts and sciences. Out of that will grow a new awareness and appreciation for innovation and creativity that can be embraced not only by the business world, but also on a larger cultural level.

As a communication professional, I feel it is my obligation to help lead the wave of innovation at my job and in the community. My employer would not have endured a century-and-a-half if it were not for its history of innovation, as I am sure the same could be said about many other older American businesses. We need to sow the seeds now so in one hundred fifty years America will still be regarded as “as the country with the best reputation for innovation.”


See the article that inspired this post, “Innovation and Growth ‘Inextricably Linked,’ GE’s New Global Innovation Barometer Finds” on GE Reports: http://www.gereports.com/innovation-and-growth-inextricably-linked/