The Future Demands Collaboration, Ideation, Implementation and Value Creation

February 16, 2011


According to a recent Washington Post poll, “a growing number of Americans consider the accelerating trend toward globalization a bad thing for the United States. At the same time, a majority now sees being the world's No. 1 economic power as an important national goal.”

We face change that has caught us off guard. The world has transformed and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The motivated, smart, nimble and hungry countries are jettisoning forward. Of course we don't like globalization. It means we can't sit on our laurels anymore. We need to get back to the hard work of innovating.

I am hopeful that the latter stat means we're eager to support President Obama's appeal for increased U.S. innovation. “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation,” he said in his State of the Union (SOTU) address last month.

The question is: Do we want success badly enough to do the work?

The Washington Post poll found that only one-third of Americans give “excellent or good ratings to the country's ability to vie successfully in the global economy.”

But, I believe we can catch up and forge ahead. That's because it's ingrained in who we are as Americans.

As, the Education Resources Information Center, said in ERIC Digest No. 39, “Education on the U.S. Constitution,” way back in 1987, the bicentennial of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, “in 1787, this Constitution was a striking innovation, a breakthrough in the establishment of republican self-government.”

And blogger Randy Haykin wrote last summer that the creative problem solving process our Founding Fathers employed to write the Constitution was astounding.

“The process needed to identify the critical needs of the day, brainstorm creative ways that the states could collectively and separately solve these issues,  and come up with a common vision from all this. Finally, the group of delegates had to identify a future implementation process by which the newly formed solution could unfold over time as new ideas and needs were revealed.”

Somehow over the past two or three decades, as a nation, we've forgotten this process.

Innovation is defined as people collaborating to develop and implement new ideas that create value. Our Founding Fathers did it well. It's time for the United States to redefine its value proposition for the 21st century. And then invest in the people, knowledge and policies that allow us to, as Obama said in his SOTU, “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

Our Founders recognized the importance of the innovation process for the future of our nation when they gave Congress the Power “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” in Article 1: Section 8 of the Constitution.

Globalization shouldn't be seen as a threat to regaining our innovation edge, but as a motivating force. Competition is what motivates corporations to develop new and different offerings for their customers. It should be what motivates the United States to develop new products, services and technologies.