Today managing innovation is complex; often success is measured and valued by the creative destruction of others. The ability to ‘evolve’ is very determinant on the knowledge base, either within a given economy or within a ‘federation’ to bring together as something new, offering more value than what is on offer today. Innovation is highly dynamic in its constant change but also in its needs of constant co-ordination of its parts.
Nations are Very Different
No one nation can just copy another, the same as one business entity cannot simply copy another, each has distinct characteristics, a history and a certain set of ‘physical’ boundaries on where it is located. Different cultures, different histories set each Nation apart.
The main differences of Nations requiring to innovate is they simply just can’t migrate to another country or spread themselves around the globe to tap into the activities in these different places, they are geographically bound. Nations have to think differently, they are firmly anchored and the job of nations is to attract innovation activity so as to ‘create the right conditions’ and facilitate these as best they can, and work within the economic circumstances they find themselves within. They can’t escape but they can create the ‘right’ conditions and now what they are good at or could be good at.
Proactive Innovation Needs to be Channelled through Entrepreneurs
Innovation is considered one of the few proactive strategies available to promote wealth and growth. It does need organizing; it cannot be left to chance. It is working on the connectivity points; to reduce often abstract agenda’s and turn them into tangible opportunities. We need to make the approaches and thinking around innovation as coherent, accessible and open as possible.
At the heart of any future within innovation is the entrepreneur and the ability of nations to succeed in today’s environment of ‘stagnation’ is to provide the environment for these new entities and smaller ideas -rich ones to grow. Joseph Schumpeter talked about ‘creative destruction’ many years ago, back in 1942, that applies even more in today’s world. “Creative destruction resulting from innovation and entrepreneurship is the force that creates sustainable long-term economic growth”.
He concluded that radical innovation can lead to a better society but it is the way you interpret this will determine the winners from the losers. In Europe the entrepreneur exploits existing structures whereas that shinning beacon of entrepreneur activity lying in Silicon Valley and in a number of other innovation hot spots of the USA seem to have a greater appetite for radical change. This has its consequences and its attractions. Venture capital has its concentration in the US; failure is not only tolerated but talked about as a learning point, a certain badge of honour even. In much of the rest of the world failure is a heavy stigma that constrains and is often judged harshly by society.
The USA does have the inbuilt structure and capabilities to realize a new innovation spirit
If the US was to really extract and study its emerging innovation activity, that certain ‘collective learning curve’ often not captured enough to see the discernable patterns. It might realize it has its new launching point, to position itself even further as the vibrant ecosystem for innovation start up and acceleration, the place where you do create new jobs and future wealth of a nation.
The US has most, if not all, of the factors needed in place or easily put into place, it just needs a collective recognition of what it has, what it can provide and that is simply, going back to what America use to do best; to provide the best possible conditions to pioneer, to explore, to extract, to venture forth and simply innovate.
It is through the recognition that the small business is the economic generator of jobs and through recognizing and then intensifying the factors that will allow entrepreneurship to flourish, that a path to growth can occur.
The American dream is still caught up always in the adventure, that pioneering need; innovation can certainly feed that ‘desire’. The Americans are curious, enjoy experimenting and pushing the limits. They need to reawaken the entrepreneurial spirit further and regain that roaming spirit by moving across the new innovation landscape or prairie, this time a global one, to explore and experiment. It is certainly a place that the US can grasp, as a nation and transform its economy back to an engine of value and real worth it is through entrepreneurism.
Encourage proactive practices not protective practices
To do this policy needs to ‘anchor’ everything that entrepreneurs require and seek to protect this by all the means possible, not in protective practices but in proactive practices and stimulus.
So if I was setting innovation policy in the US or even Europe. I would certainly clear the current innovation ‘wood for the trees’ so it can then allow the emerging best to grow tall and give the new growth needed for the ‘ecosystem’ it will attract around it to provide new jobs and fresh growth. This is focusing clearly on entrepreneurs as the place to give the best return for moving our stagnating economies forward again.