Earlier this week President Obama spoke about how we need to become a more innovative society if we hope to compete globally. He believes that our country’s future is tied to our ability to get both corporate and government organizations to work together. He feels strongly that government has a major role in creating a country that leads the world in technology and education.
I have been blessed to work with many of the world’s leading businesses and non-profits across a number of disciplines. All of them have been innovators in their industries. The challenge of ongoing innovation is that you must never forget your customers’ needs and wants. Innovation for the sake of change is no better than staying where you are. Many innovative companies are tied to closely to their customers and clients. Most high growth businesses have come from uncovering a need that is not really been exposed yet but taps into a market want. People will spend significantly to have their wants met, but many times will not spend for a need. The marketer’s challenge is to be able to blend wants and needs in a way that allows the early adopters to jump on to the bandwagon.
Innovation can provide an advantage when the market is ready for it. The other part of the innovation process includes significant capital during the early stages of development. Markets and countries must provide financial support during these early stages of development. There must be a healthy risk / reward formula for individuals and companies who are willing to take risks.
Currently, many start-ups are struggling because they are unable to secure the needed capital to grow faster or to take advantage of emerging opportunities. In the current economic environment, many banks and bankers have become the villains for spend-happy politicians. They tell us how crooked the banks and financial institutions are and then take huge financial contributions to their campaigns from them.
I agree that we need to reform the financial system if we hope to be competitive. Two years ago we teetered on the edge of another great depression and incredibly we accused the financial institutions. Where were the regulators? The government never held the regulators accountable. If the government and politicians say they are watching out for us, why weren’t the regulators watching? If there aren’t enough regulators, that’s where you spend the money, not on more regulation.
It’s interesting to me that we have become a society of the no-fault meltdowns. This must also change, if we’re going to create an innovative national culture. We must make sure our elected officials are held the same standard as those in private industry when we make mistakes. If they make bad decisions they should be fired. Tell me how elected officials who continue to spend money like its have no accountability? How is this allowed to continue?
To reverse the trend and create a more innovative country, we need to get the money back into the private sector. Government doesn’t innovate, private industry does. The first step in getting innovative is getting government out of the middle.