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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Leadership and Governance for Sustainability > Global Leadership

Innovation for the Coming Conceptual Economy

Innovation is America's middle name. But for how long? How do we keep pace with the growing expertise and competition from lower cost, more highly motivated countries and companies?

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"Looking back at the tremendous growth of America’s gross domestic product over the past half century, information and ideas have been equally, if not more, important than materials and manpower to sustaining America’s economy." The Competitiveness Index: Where America Stands - 2007

A lot has changed since 2007. But some things have maintained their trajectory ... information, and access to information are two trends that have not been curtailed by the current economic crisis.

The Conceptual Economy

Access to global information and, increasingly, technology are commodities in today’s world. As a result, those who have a great deal of information and technology, or know how to manage it, do not necessarily achieve competitive advantage. Rather, rewards go to those who know what to do with knowledge, information and technology once they get it. This new system of wealth favors judgment, intuition, creativity and insight.

In the conceptual economy, our success will be measured by our ability to transform industries, reshape markets old and new, stay on the leading-edge of technology creation, and fuse diverse knowledge, information and technology.

This new global economy will be much different than the industrial economy of the 20th century, or even the information economy of the past two decades. The conceptual economy will favor nations that reach globally for markets, and those who embrace different cultures and absorb their diversity of ideas into the innovation process.

It will be fueled by the fusion of different technical and creative fields, and thrive on scholarship, creativity, artistry and leading-edge thinking. These concepts are America’s strengths. These concepts are our competitive advantage. These concepts are uniquely American — for now.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," my mother taught me decades ago. And it still is. The green economy has arisen out of necessity. Innovation is rising out of the current economic necessity.

Get ready for an onslaught on innovation in 2010-2012! When millions of middle class, top level, highly educated workers are dismissed from corporate jobs several things happen:

  • They lose faith in corporate employment and become more entrepreneurial
  • More businesses are started based on ideas that corporations wouldn't pay attention to
  • Investors look for 10 cent on the dollar investments -- and struggling entrepreneurs often provide that opportunity.
  • Innovation can cut costs dramatically, and new products often offer 50% or more savings on operational solutions
  • Federal funding for science and technology is increasing, and innovation won't be far behind...for people who know how to commercialize it.

The Council on Competitiveness has conducted extensive surveys and research on what will keep America at the top of the competitive heap. Check out their reports -- many are available as free downloads -- such as the PDF, "Competitiveness Index: Where America Stands", which includes the quotes in this article.

Council on Competitiveness
1500 K Street, NW, Suite 850
Washington, DC 20005
T 202 682 4292

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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